Author(s): Philippa D Darbre, Ayse Bakir, Elzira Iskakova
Aluminium (Al) has been measured in human breast tissue, nipple aspirate fluid and breast cyst fluid, and recent studies have shown that at tissue concentrations, aluminium can induce DNA damage and suspension growth in human breast epithelial cells. This paper demonstrates for the first time that exposure to aluminium can also increase migratory and invasive properties of MCF-7 human breast cancer cells. Long-term (32 weeks) but not short-term (1 week) exposure of MCF-7 cells to 10(-4) M aluminium chloride or 10(-4) M aluminium chlorohydrate increased motility of the cells as measured by live cell imaging (cumulative length moved by individual cells), by a wound healing assay and by migration in real time through 8 μm pores of a membrane using xCELLigence technology. Long-term exposure (37 weeks) to 10(-4) M aluminium chloride or 10(-4) M aluminium chlorohydrate also increased the ability of MCF-7 cells to invade through a matrigel layer as measured in real time using the xCELLigence system. Although molecular mechanisms remain to be characterized, the ability of aluminium salts to increase migratory and invasive properties of MCF-7 cells suggests that the presence of aluminium in the human breast could influence metastatic processes. This is important because mortality from breast cancer arises mainly from tumour spread rather than from the presence of a primary tumour in the breast.