Alcohol consumption has been recognized as a risk factor for breast cancer. Experimental studies demonstrate that alcohol exposure promotes the progression of existing mammary tumors. However, the mechanisms underlying this effect remain unclear. In the present study, the role of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in alcohol promotion of breast cancer development was investigated using a mouse xenograft model of mammary tumors and a three-dimensional (3D) tumor/endothelial cell co-culture system. For the mouse xenograft model, mouse E0771 breast cancer cells were implanted into the mammary fat pad of C57BL6 mice. These mice were exposed to alcohol in their drinking water. For the 3D co-culture system, E0771 cells and MDA-MB231 breast cancer cells were co-cultured with SVEC4-10EE2 and human umbilical vein endothelial cells, respectively. The results demonstrated that alcohol increased tumor angiogenesis and accelerated tumor growth. Furthermore, it appeared that alcohol induced VEGF expression in breast cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. Blocking VEGF signaling by SU5416 inhibited tumor angiogenesis in the 3D tumor/endothelial cell co-culture system. Furthermore, injection of SU5416 into mice inhibited alcohol-promoted mammary tumor growth in vivo. These results indicate that alcohol may promote mammary tumor growth by stimulating VEGF-dependent angiogenesis.

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Published in Oncology Letters, v. 8, no. 2, p. 673-678.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3892/ol.2014.2146

Copyright © Spandidos Publications 2015. All rights reserved.

The copyright holders have granted the permission for posting the article here.

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This study was supported by the Scientific Research Foundation for the Returned Overseas Chinese Scholars (Professor Siying Wang) and Academic Leaders Fund of Anhui Province (Professor Siying Wang).