Analysis of caspase activities in rat mammary tumours induced by N-methyl-nitrosourea
Affiliations: Unit of Microbiology, Department of Health Sciences, Faculty of Experimental Sciences, University of Jaén, E-23071 Jaén, Spain
- Published online on: September 1, 2008 https://doi.org/10.3892/or_00000056
- Pages: 657-662
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Normal breast development is controlled by a balance between cell proliferation and apoptosis. The balance between the two parameters is crucial for determining the growth or regression of breast tumours in response to therapies and treatments. Therefore, it is necessary to understand the role of apoptosis in tumour progression. Active caspases participate as essential elements in the execution of apoptotic mechanisms. In the present study, we analysed the activities of caspase-3, -8 and -9 as well as cytochrome c release in N-methyl-nitrosourea (NMU)-induced rat mammary tumours, in order to establish the apoptotic events that occur in tumour growth in this animal model. Forty female virgin Wistar rats were randomly divided into two groups. One group was injected intraperitoneally with three doses of 50 mg/kg body weight of NMU. The control group received the vehicle only. After 122 days of NMU injection, the rats were sacrificed and the tumours were excised and processed. Results showed that in mammary tumours induced by NMU, the apoptotic death receptor-mediated pathway is activated through caspase-3 and -8, but the apoptotic mitochondrial pathway is suppressed through a non-activating process of caspase-9 activity, despite the release of cytochrome c. In conclusion, these findings have demonstrated a suppression of the apoptotic mitochondrial pathway through a non-activating process of caspase-9 activity, despite the release of cytochrome c in mammary tumours induced by NMU. Although the apoptotic death receptor-mediated pathway is activated, it is not enough to maintain the balance between proliferation and apoptosis, and thus determine the overall growth of the tumour.