Introduction: Breast cancer (BC) is the 2nd leading cause of cancer death among women in the US. Known risk factors for the development of BC include thoracic radiotherapy during puberty and obesity with the latter turning into a nation-wide health crisis. The underlying mechanisms that lead to increased BC incidences in these two scenarios are incompletely understood. However, exposure to ionizing radiation (IR) or obesity generate pro-inflammatory conditions that have been linked to mammary carcinogenesis. As inflammation involves signaling through TNF receptors (TNFR), we have therefore employed crosses between mice that spontaneously develop BC (MMTV-Wnt1) and TNFR KO mice to study the impact of TNFR downstream signaling on BC development. Material and Methods: MMTV-Wnt1 were crossed with TNFR1 or TNFR2 KO mice to explore the BC incidence during the first year post-partum in both genders. Mammary gland area and ductal outgrowth were evaluated by whole mount histological staining with 6-week-old female (end of puberty) and 14-week-old mice (adult). Tumor cells were harvested from tumor-developed MMTV-Wnt1 and MMTV-Wnt1 x TNFR2 KO female mice, the population of tumor initiating cells (EpCAMlow/CD49fhi) was analyzed by FACS. Vasculature formation (CD31), cell proliferation (Ki67) and immune system (CD4, CD8, F4/80) were evaluated within tumors by immunohistochemistry staining. Tumor cells were digested out from primary tumors and cultured in spheres condition. In-vitro sphere formation assay was performed w/o IR or TNFα treatment. All quantitative results were treated by ANOVA and Bonferroni analysis, upon verification of normal data distribution with α value at 0.05. Results: TNFR2KO drastically accelerates BC in female animals but not in males. In contrary, TNFR1 KOhad no effect on female BC development but completely prevented BC in males. TNFR2 KO led to elongation of mammary gland duct system, expansion of mammary epithelial stem cell pool and increase of BC initiating cells, as well as more vasculatures and proliferating cells in developed tumors. T-cellsand macrophage content in established tumors don’t correlate with differences in BC incidence between the crosses. MMTV-Wnt1 x TNFR2 KO mammospheres were more resistant to IR compared to Wnt1 x TNFR1 KO and MMTV-Wnt1. Pro-inflammatory TNFα ligand increased the sphere formation in a dose-dependent manner within Wnt1 x TNFR1 KO and MMTV-Wnt1 spheres, but not in Wnt1 x TNFR2 KO ones. Conclusion: Heterozygous TNFR2 KO in female MMTV-Wnt1 Tg mice increases the BC incidence, along with more resistance to IR, suggesting the downstream of TNFR2 may potentially suppress breast carcinogenesis. Also TNFR2 KO leads to more mammary gland branching and expansion of epithelial stem cells during development, which imply the potential use of TNFR2 agonist in thoracic radiotherapy and obese scenarios to reduce the BC incidence.

Citation Format: Ling He, Kruttika Bhat, Paul Medina, Claudia Alli, Mohammad Saki, Fei Cheng, Frank Pajonk. TNFR-signaling in breast cancer development [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 2019 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium; 2019 Dec 10-14; San Antonio, TX. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2020;80(4 Suppl):Abstract nr P3-03-07.