Estrogen and estrogen receptors (ER) play a key role in breast cancer progression, which can be treated with endocrine therapy. Nevertheless, resistance to endocrine therapies is developed over time. The tumor expression of thrombomodulin (TM) is correlated with favorable prognosis in several types of cancer. However, this correlation has not yet been confirmed in ER-positive (ER+) breast cancer. This study aims to evaluate the role of TM in ER+ breast cancer. Firstly, we found that lower TM expression correlates to poor overall survival (OS) and relapse-free survival (RFS) rates in ER+ breast cancer patients through Kaplan-Meier survival analysis (p < 0.05). Silencing TM in MCF7 cells (TM-KD) increased cell proliferation, migration, and invasion ability. Additionally, TM-KD MCF7 cells showed higher sensitivity (IC50 15 μM) to the anti-cancer agent curcumin than the scrambled control cells. Conversely, overexpression of TM (TM-over) in T47D cells leads to decreased cell proliferation, migration, and invasion ability. Furthermore, TM-over T47D cells showed more resistance (IC50 > 40 μM) to the curcumin treatment. The PI staining, DAPI, and tunnel assay also confirmed that the curcumin-induced apoptosis in TM-KD MCF7 cells was higher (90.34%) than in the scrambled control cells (48.54%). Finally, the expressions of drug-resistant genes (ABCC1, LRP1, MRP5, and MDR1) were determined by qPCR. We found that the relative mRNA expression levels of ABCC1, LRP1, and MDR1 genes after curcumin treatment were higher in scrambled control cells than in TM-KD cells. In conclusion, our results demonstrated that TM plays a suppressive role in the progression and metastasis of ER+ breast cancer, and it regulates curcumin sensitivity by interfering with ABCC1, LRP1, and MDR1 gene expression.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 7 2023


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