Oxytocin synthesis within the normal and neoplastic breast: First evidence of a local peptide source

Paola Cassoni, Tiziana Marrocco, Anna Sapino, Elena Allia, Gianni Bussolati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The role of the neurohypophyseal peptide oxytocin (OT) and its receptor (OTR) in the breast has been described mainly in relation to breast feeding or to neoplastic growth regulation. We demonstrate here the presence of OT synthesis within the breast under both physiological and neoplastic conditions. In order to clarify whether normal epithelial and myoepithelial cells could synthesize OT, the two different cell types were separated using immunomagnetic technique after enzymatic digestion of breast specimens obtained during reductive mastoplasty. The freshly isolated cells as well as primary stabilized cultures derived from purified normal breast epithelial and myopithelial cells were then studied. Both epithelial and myoepithelial cells contained the mRNA for OT and OTR; however, only myoepithelial cells showed an effective OT synthesis and detectable peptide release in the culture medium. Moreover, OT expression was studied at mRNA and protein level in 10 human breast carcinoma cell lines. OT mRNA was present in half (5 out of 10) of the breast carcinoma cell lines tested, and OT was synthesized and released in the cell medium, irrespective of the estrogen receptor status of the different cell lines. However, in the two ER + cell lines actively producing OT, such synthesis was significantly increased following estradiol (E 2) treatment. These data altogether suggest the existence of a local OT source within the normal as well as within the neoplastic breast, and that such synthesis can be modulated by E 2.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1263-1268
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Oncology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2006


  • Breast cancer
  • Estradiol
  • Estrogen receptors
  • Oxytocin
  • Oxytocin receptors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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