UMMS Affiliation

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology

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Document Type



Amino Acids, Peptides, and Proteins | Biological Factors | Cancer Biology | Cells | Hormones, Hormone Substitutes, and Hormone Antagonists | Molecular Biology | Neoplasms


Leptin is an adipokine that is overexpressed in obese and overweight people. Interestingly, women with breast cancer present high levels of leptin and of its receptor ObR. Leptin plays an important role in breast cancer progression due to the biological processes it participates in, such as epithelial(-)mesenchymal transition (EMT). EMT consists of a series of orchestrated events in which cell(-)cell and cell(-)extracellular matrix interactions are altered and lead to the release of epithelial cells from the surrounding tissue. The cytoskeleton is also re-arranged, allowing the three-dimensional movement of epithelial cells into the extracellular matrix. This transition provides cells with the ability to migrate and invade adjacent or distal tissues, which is a classic feature of invasive or metastatic carcinoma cells. In recent years, the number of cases of breast cancer has increased, making this disease a public health problem worldwide and the leading cause of death due to cancer in women. In this review, we focus on recent advances that establish: (1) leptin as a risk factor for the development of breast cancer, and (2) leptin as an inducer of EMT, an event that promotes tumor progression.


EMT, breast cancer, leptin, transcription factors

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© 2018 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (

DOI of Published Version



Int J Mol Sci. 2018 Nov 6;19(11). pii: ijms19113493. doi: 10.3390/ijms19113493. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

International journal of molecular sciences

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.