Does Human Cytomegalovirus Promote Treatment-Resistant Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women. There are many known risk factors for breast cancer, but one area merits further research is virus infection. Human Cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infects over half of adults by the age of 40, and recent evidence suggests that HCMV may be linked to cancer progression. A previous study found high levels of HCMV proteins in breast tumor biopsies correlated with low levels of estrogen receptor-α (ERα) and progesterone receptor (PR). To determine if HCMV impacts ER protein levels, we infected two breast cancer cell lines with HCMV. The results show that ERα and PR levels were greatly reduced in the presence of HCMV compared to mock- infected cells. We are investigating the mechanistic basis for this observation, but If HCMV triggers a reduction in hormone receptors in breast cancer cells, then patients may benefit from the addition of antiviral medications to treatment regimens.
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