Effects of insulin and analogues on carcinogen-induced mammary tumours in high-fat-fed rats

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlesResearchpeer-review


  • Yusaku Mori
  • Eunhyoung Ko
  • Rudolf Furrer
  • Linda C Qu
  • Stuart C Wiber
  • I George Fantus
  • Mario Thevis
  • Alan Medline
  • Adria Giacca

Research units


It is not fully clarified whether insulin glargine, an analogue with a high affinity for insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor (IGF-1R), increases the risk for cancers that abundantly express IGF-1R such as breast cancer or some types of breast cancer. To gain insight into this issue, female Sprague-Dawley rats fed a high-fat diet were given the carcinogen N-methyl-N-nitrosourea and randomly assigned to vehicle (control), NPH (unmodified human insulin), glargine or detemir (n = 30 per treatment). Insulins were given subcutaneously (15 U/kg/day) 5 days a week. Mammary tumours were counted twice weekly, and after 6 weeks of treatment, extracted for analysis. None of the insulin-treated groups had increased mammary tumour incidence at any time compared with control. At 6 weeks, tumour multiplicity was increased with NPH or glargine (P < 0.05) and tended to be increased with detemir (P = 0.2); however, there was no difference among insulins (number of tumours per rat: control = 0.8 ± 0.1, NPH = 1.8 ± 0.3, glargine = 1.5 ± 0.4, detemir = 1.4 ± 0.4; number of tumours per tumour-bearing rat: control = 1.3 ± 0.1, NPH = 2.2 ± 0.4, glargine = 2.7 ± 0.5, detemir = 2.3 ± 0.5). IGF-1R expression in tumours was lower than that in Michigan Cancer Foundation-7 (MCF-7) cells, a cell line that shows greater proliferation with glargine than unmodified insulin. In rats, glargine was rapidly metabolised to M1 that does not have greater affinity for IGF-1R. In conclusion, in this model of oestrogen-dependent breast cancer in insulin-resistant rats, insulin and insulin analogues increased tumour multiplicity with no difference between insulin types.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEndocrine connections
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)739-748
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 05.2018

ID: 3562848


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