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DOI: 10.3390/cancers14061577; PMCID: PMC8946238


Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is a subtype of breast cancer that accounts for the majority of breast cancer-related deaths due to the lack of specific targets for effective treatments. While there is immense focus on the development of novel therapies for TNBC treatment, a persistent and critical issue is the rate of heart failure and cardiomyopathy, which is a leading cause of mortality and morbidity amongst cancer survivors. In this review, we highlight mechanisms of post-chemotherapeutic cardiotoxicity exposure, evaluate how this is assessed clinically and highlight the transforming growth factor-beta family (TGF-β) pathway and its significance as a mediator of cardiomyopathy. We also highlight recent findings demonstrating TGF-β inhibition as a potent method to prevent cardiac remodeling, fibrosis and cardiomyopathy. We describe how dysregulation of the TGF-β pathway is associated with negative patient outcomes across 32 types of cancer, including TNBC. We then highlight how TGF-β modulation may be a potent method to target mesenchymal (CD44+/CD24-) and epithelial (ALDHhigh) cancer stem cell (CSC) populations in TNBC models. CSCs are associated with tumorigenesis, metastasis, relapse, resistance and diminished patient prognosis; however, due to plasticity and differential regulation, these populations remain difficult to target and continue to present a major barrier to successful therapy. TGF-β inhibition represents an intersection of two fields: cardiology and oncology. Through the inhibition of cardiomyopathy, cardiac damage and heart failure may be prevented, and through CSC targeting, patient prognoses may be improved. Together, both approaches, if successfully implemented, would target the two greatest causes of cancer-related morbidity in patients and potentially lead to a breakthrough therapy.

Journal Title

Cancers (Basel)






CSC; TNBC TGF-β; cardiology; oncology


This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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