Effects of sodium butyrate on expression of members of the IGF-binding protein superfamily in human mammary epithelial cells

J. Tsubaki, W. K. Choi, A. R. Ingermann, S. M. Twigg, H. S. Kim, R. G. Rosenfeld, Y. Oh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Dietary factors play an important role in both the development and prevention of human cancers, including breast carcinoma. One dietary micronutrient, sodium butyrate (NaB), is a major end product of dietary starch and fiber, produced naturally during digestion by anaerobic bacteria in the cecum and colon. NaB is a potent growth inhibitor and initiates cell differentiation for many cell types in vitro. In this study, we investigated the effects of NaB on three human mammary epithelial cells and regulation of the IGF axis, specifically, IGF-binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3), a known growth regulator in human mammary cells, and IGFBP-related protein 2 (IGFBP-rP2)/connective tissue growth factor. NaB inhibited DNA synthesis, as measured by [3H]thymidine incorporation, in estrogen-responsive (MCF-7) and estrogen-non-responsive (Hs578T) breast cancer cells, and normal human mammary epithelial cells (HMEC) to a similar degree (up to 90% inhibition at 1-10 mM concentrations). Treatment of cells with NaB induced histone hyperacetylation, suggesting that NaB exerts its biological effects, at least in part, as a histone deacetylase inhibitor in mammary epithelial cells. Treatment of Hs578T cells with NaB caused an induction of apoptotic cell death. NaB treatment resulted in increased levels of p21Waf1/Cip1 mRNA and protein in Hs578T cells and distinct upregulation of p27Kip1 in HMEC, suggesting that NaB activates different genes involved in cell cycle arrest, depending upon the cell type. In the same context, among the IGFBP superfamily members tested, NaB specifically upregulated the expression of IGFBP-3 and IGFBP-rP2. These two proteins are known to be involved in inhibition of mammary epithelial cell replication. Northern blot analysis showed that NaB treatment at 1-10 mM concentrations caused a dose-dependent stimulation of IGFBP-3 mRNA expression in cancerous cells and IGFBP-rP2 mRNA expression in both cancerous and non-cancerous cells. Protein data from Western ligand blot and immunoblot analyses demonstrated parallel results. In summary, we have demonstrated that NaB (i) uniformly suppresses DNA synthesis in both cancerous and non-cancerous mammary cells, and (ii) upregulates IGFBP-3 and IGFBP-rP2 mRNA and protein levels in cancerous and non-cancerous mammary cells. These results provide the first demonstration that butyrate regulates the IGFBP system in the human mammary system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-110
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Endocrinology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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