We investigated whether TGF-β induced by anticancer therapies accelerates tumor progression. Using the MMTV/PyVmT transgenic model of metastatic breast cancer, we show that administration of ionizing radiation or doxorubicin caused increased circulating levels of TGF-β1 as well as increased circulating tumor cells and lung metastases. These effects were abrogated by administration of a neutralizing pan-TGF-β antibody. Circulating polyomavirus middle T antigen-expressing tumor cells did not grow ex vivo in the presence of the TGF-β antibody, suggesting autocrine TGF-β is a survival signal in these cells. Radiation failed to enhance lung metastases in mice bearing tumors that lack the type II TGF-β receptor, suggesting that the increase in metastases was due, at least in part, to a direct effect of TGF-β on the cancer cells. These data implicate TGF-β induced by anticancer therapy as a prometastatic signal in tumor cells and provide a rationale for the simultaneous use of these therapies in combination with TGF-β inhibitors.
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