American journal of cancer research

Breast cancer pulmonary metastasis is increased in mice undertaking spontaneous physical training in the running wheel; a call for revising beneficial effects of exercise on cancer progression.

PMID 28979814


It has been repeatedly shown that regular aerobic exercise exerts beneficial effects on incidence and progression of cancer. However, the data regarding effects of exercise on metastatic dissemination remain conflicting. Therefore, in the present study the possible preventive effects of voluntary wheel running on primary tumor growth and metastases formation in the model of spontaneous pulmonary metastasis were analyzed after orthotopic injection of 4T1 breast cancer cells into mammary fat pads of female Balb/C mice. This study identified that in the mice injected with 4T1 breast cancer cells and running on the wheels (4T1 ex) the volume and size of the primary tumor were not affected, but the number of secondary nodules formed in the lungs was significantly increased compared to their sedentary counterparts (4T1 sed). This effect was associated with decreased NO production in the isolated aorta of exercising mice (4T1 ex), suggesting deterioration of endothelial function that was associated with lower platelet count without their overactivation. This was evidenced by comparable selectin P, active GPIIb/IIIa expression, fibrinogen and vWF binding on the platelet surface. In conclusion, voluntary wheel running appeared to impair, rather than improve endothelial function, and to promote, but not decrease metastasis in the murine orthotopic model of metastatic breast cancer. These results call for revising the notion of the persistent beneficial effects of voluntary exercise on breast cancer progression, though further studies are needed to elucidate mechanisms involved in pro-metastatic effects of voluntary exercise.