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Purpose of review: To examine the links of nuclear factor-[kappa]B (NF-[kappa]B) to treatment-induced signaling in breast cancer and to propose further studies to elucidate the role of NF-[kappa]B in breast cancer response to chemotherapy and radiation.

Recent findings: The authors' group and others have investigated the clinical relevance of ubiquitously expressed NF-[kappa]B in breast cancer. Possibly through its effects on apoptosis, NF-[kappa]B has been implicated in tumor resistance to chemotherapy and radiation in many types of tumors. Furthermore, both in vitro and in vivo studies have shown that targeted inhibition of NF-[kappa]B can sensitize tumor cells to chemotherapy and radiation.

Summary: The molecular mechanisms involved in chemotherapy-induced and radiation-induced cell death in breast cancer are not fully known, nor are the mechanisms of treatment resistance. NF-[kappa]B is a transcription factor for a number of genes involved in tumor progression and resistance to systemic therapies and is a major regulator of the apoptotic pathway. Gaining further insights into molecular factors such as NF-[kappa]B as biomarkers for treatment response may help clinicians predict treatment outcome and lead to the development of targeted therapeutics.

(C) 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.