Research Article| Volume 49, ISSUE 3, P235-240, November 15, 2004

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Breast cancer risk during HRT: influence of estradiol metabolites on breast cancer and endothelial cell proliferation


      Objectives: Long-term hormone replacement therapy is associated with an increased breast cancer risk. Evidence is accumulating that estradiol metabolites are involved in carcinogenesis. These metabolites may have proliferating and anti-proliferative properties. We have investigated the effect of 14 metabolites on the proliferation of human breast cancer cells and on the proliferation of human vascular endothelial cells. Methods: As cell model, human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) and the human breast cancer cell line MCF-7 were used. The relationship between dosage and effect was tested over the pharmacological concentration range of 10−8 to 10−5 M. Results: In HUVECs, all of 10 A-ring metabolites tested stimulated the growth of the endothelial cells at the lower concentrations. At the highest concentration, some A-ring metabolites caused significant inhibitions. The D-ring metabolites showed no marked effects compared to the A-ring metabolites. In MCF-7 cells also, nearly all A-ring metabolites demonstrated a biphasic reaction behaviour on cell proliferation. For the D-ring metabolites, this biphasic pattern was only found for 16α-hydroxyestrone, but the inhibitory effect of this metabolite was weak. Conclusion: These results indicate that certain endogenous estradiol metabolites are able to stimulate breast cancer cell proliferation, and others may be suitable for breast cancer treatment when used in high dosages, since they inhibit cancer cell growth as well as neoangiogensis. This may be of special importance for therapy, since some of these metabolites are virtually devoid of any oestrogenic activity.


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