Gene Summary

Gene:CYP19A1; cytochrome P450, family 19, subfamily A, polypeptide 1
Aliases: ARO, ARO1, CPV1, CYAR, CYP19, CYPXIX, P-450AROM
Summary:This gene encodes a member of the cytochrome P450 superfamily of enzymes. The cytochrome P450 proteins are monooxygenases which catalyze many reactions involved in drug metabolism and synthesis of cholesterol, steroids and other lipids. This protein localizes to the endoplasmic reticulum and catalyzes the last steps of estrogen biosynthesis. Mutations in this gene can result in either increased or decreased aromatase activity; the associated phenotypes suggest that estrogen functions both as a sex steroid hormone and in growth or differentiation. Alternative splicing results in multiple transcript variants. [provided by RefSeq, May 2014]
Databases:OMIM, VEGA, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Source:NCBIAccessed: 21 August, 2015


What does this gene/protein do?
Show (46)

Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1990-2015)
Graph generated 21 August 2015 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

Mouse over the terms for more detail; many indicate links which you can click for dedicated pages about the topic.

  • Uterine Cancer
  • Cancer Gene Expression Regulation
  • Breast Cancer
  • Premenopause
  • Transcription
  • Steroidogenic Factor 1
  • Nucleic Acid Regulatory Sequences
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
  • IGF1R
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Vitamin D3 24-Hydroxylase
  • Smoking
  • Chromosome 15
  • Testicular Cancer
  • Tamoxifen
  • Receptors, LHRH
  • Aromatase
  • Transcriptional Activation
  • Transfection
  • Receptors, Progesterone
  • Estrogen Receptors
  • Sulfotransferases
  • Up-Regulation
  • Steryl-Sulfatase
  • Testosterone
  • Young Adult
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Polymorphism
  • Cervical Cancer
  • Aromatase Inhibitors
  • Estrogens
  • Risk Factors
  • Cancer RNA
  • Vitamin D
  • Repetitive Sequences, Nucleic Acid
  • Ovarian Cancer
  • Promoter Regions
  • Somatomedins
  • Xenograft Models
  • Single Nucleotide Polymorphism
Tag cloud generated 21 August, 2015 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (5)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: CYP19A1 (cancer-related)

Ren X, Wu X, Hillier SG, et al.
Local estrogen metabolism in epithelial ovarian cancer suggests novel targets for therapy.
J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2015; 150:54-63 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) accounts for about 90% of malignant ovarian tumors, and estrogen is often implicated in disease progression. We therefore compared the potential for gating of estrogen action via pre-receptor metabolism in normal human ovarian surface epithelium (OSE), EOC and selected EOC cell lines (SKOV3 and PEO1). Steroid sulphatase (STS), estrogen sulfotransferase (EST), 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases 2 (17BHSD2) and 5 (17BHSD5) mRNAs, proteins and enzymatic activities were all detectable in primary cell cultures of OSE and EOC, whereas aromatase and 17BHSD1 expression was negligible. qRT-PCR assay on total mRNA revealed significantly higher EST mRNA expression in OSE compared to EOC (P<0.05). Radioenzymatic measurements confirmed reduced sulfoconjugation (neutralization) of free estrogen in EOC relative to OSE. OSE cells were more effective at converting free [(3)H]-E1 to [(3)H]-E1S or [(3)H]-E2S, while EOC cell lines mainly converted [(3)H]-E1 to [(3)H]-E2 with minimal formation of [(3)H]-E1S or [(3)H]-E2S. IL1α treatment suppressed EST (P<0.01) and 17BHSD2 (P<0.001) mRNA levels in OSE and stimulated STS mRNA levels (P<0.001) in cancer (SKOV3) cells. These results show that estrogen is differentially metabolized in OSE and EOC cells, with E2 'activation' from conjugated estrogen predominating in EOC. Inflammatory cytokines may further augment the local production of E2 by stimulating STS and suppressing EST. We conclude that local estrogen metabolism may be a target for EOC treatment.

Chen Z, Wang Y, Warden C, Chen S
Cross-talk between ER and HER2 regulates c-MYC-mediated glutamine metabolism in aromatase inhibitor resistant breast cancer cells.
J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2015; 149:118-27 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2016 Related Publications
Resistance to endocrine therapies in hormone receptor (HR)-positive breast cancer is a significant clinical problem for a considerable number of patients. The oncogenic transcription factor c-MYC (hereafter referred to as MYC), which regulates glutamine metabolism in cancer cells, has been linked to endocrine resistance. We were interested in whether MYC-mediated glutamine metabolism is also associated with aromatase inhibitor (AI) resistant breast cancer. We studied the expression and regulation of MYC and the effects of inhibition of MYC expression in both AI sensitive and resistant breast cancer cells. Considering the role of MYC in glutamine metabolism, we evaluated the contribution of glutamine to the proliferation of AI sensitive and resistant cells, and performed RNA-sequencing to investigate mechanisms of MYC-mediated glutamine utilization in AI resistance. We found that glutamine metabolism was independent of estrogen but still required estrogen receptor (ER) in AI resistant breast cancer cells. The expression of MYC oncogene was up-regulated through the cross-talk between ER and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) in AI resistant breast cancer cells. Moreover, the glutamine transporter solute carrier family (SLC) 1A5 was significantly up-regulated in AI resistant breast cancer cells. ER down-regulator fulvestrant inhibited MYC, SLC1A5, glutaminase (GLS) and glutamine consumption in AI resistant breast cancer cells. Inhibition of MYC, SLC1A5 and GLS decreased AI resistant breast cancer cell proliferation. Our study has uncovered that MYC expression is up-regulated by the cross-talk between ER and HER2 in AI resistant breast cancer cells. MYC-mediated glutamine metabolism is associated with AI resistance of breast cancer.

Wang X, Docanto MM, Sasano H, et al.
Prostaglandin E2 inhibits p53 in human breast adipose stromal cells: a novel mechanism for the regulation of aromatase in obesity and breast cancer.
Cancer Res. 2015; 75(4):645-55 [PubMed] Related Publications
Obesity is a risk factor for postmenopausal breast cancer and the majority of these cancers are estrogen dependent. Aromatase converts androgens into estrogens and its increased expression in breast adipose stromal cells (ASC) is a major driver of estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. In particular, obesity-associated and tumor-derived factors, such as prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), have been shown to drive the expression of aromatase by stimulating the activity of the proximal promoter II (PII). The tumor-suppressor p53 is a key regulator of cell-cycle arrest and apoptosis and is frequently mutated in breast cancer. Mutations in p53 are rare in tumor-associated ASCs. Therefore, it was hypothesized that p53 is regulated by PGE2 and involved in the PGE2-mediated regulation of aromatase. Results demonstrate that PGE2 causes a significant decrease in p53 transcript and nuclear protein expression, as well as phosphorylation at Ser15 in primary human breast ASCs. Stabilization of p53 with RITA leads to a significant decrease in the PGE2-stimulated aromatase mRNA expression and activity, and PII activity. Interaction of p53 with PII was demonstrated and this interaction is decreased in the presence of PGE2. Moreover, mutation of the identified p53 response element leads to an increase in the basal activity of the promoter. Immunofluorescence on clinical samples demonstrates that p53 is decreased in tumor-associated ASCs compared with ASCs from normal breast tissue, and that there is a positive association between perinuclear (inactive) p53 and aromatase expression in these cells. Furthermore, aromatase expression is increased in breast ASCs from Li-Fraumeni patients (germline TP53 mutations) compared with non-Li-Fraumeni breast tissue. Overall, our results demonstrate that p53 is a negative regulator of aromatase in the breast and its inhibition by PGE2 provides a novel mechanism for aromatase regulation in obesity and breast cancer.

Girgert R, Emons G, Gründker C
Inhibition of GPR30 by estriol prevents growth stimulation of triple-negative breast cancer cells by 17β-estradiol.
BMC Cancer. 2014; 14:935 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2016 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Due to the lack of ERα, triple negative breast cancers (TNBCs) are not susceptible to endocrine therapy using antiestrogens. However, the majority of TNBCs express the membrane bound estrogen receptor GPR30. We have recently shown that knock-down of GPR30 expression prevented growth stimulation of TNBC cell lines by 17β-estradiol. Now we analyzed whether specific inhibition of GPR30 represents a new option for therapy of TNBC.
METHODS: Growth of TNBC cells was assessed using Alamar-blue colorimetric assay. Activation of c-Src and EGF-receptor was assessed using Western blots. Expression of c-fos, cyclin D1 and aromatase was quantified by RT-PCR. Gα-specific signaling of GPR30 was analyzed by electrophoretic mobility shift assay.
RESULTS: HCC1806 cells showed the highest GPR30 expression, in HCC70 cells it was clearly lower, in MDA-MB-231 cells it was lowest. 10-8 M 17β-estradiol significantly increased proliferation of HCC1806 cells to 134 ± 12% of control (p < 0.01). Proliferation of HCC70 cells was slightly increased to 116 ± 8% of control. Estriol significantly reduced cell number of HCC1806 cells to 16 ± 12% (p < 0.01). Cell number of HCC70 cells and of MDA-MB-231 cells was reduced to 68 ± 25% and to 61 ± 10%, respectively.Activity of Src kinase increased to 150 ± 10% (p < 0.05) by 10-8 M 17β-estradiol treatment in HCC1806 and to 220 ± 20% in HCC70 cells (p < 0.01). Estriol treatment completely inhibited 17β-estradiol-induced p-src activation. Transactivation of EGF-receptor increased by estradiol treatment to 350% in HCC1806 and to 280% in HCC70 cells. Estriol completely suppressed EGF-receptor transactivation. c-fos expression increased to 260% and to 190%, respectively. Estriol reduced this induction to 160% (HCC1806) and below control in HCC70 cells. Cyclin D1 was induced to 290% (HCC1806) and 170% (HCC70) and completely inhibited by estriol. 17β-estradiol increased CREB-phosphorylation to 400%. Binding of phospho-CREB to a CRE of cyclin D1 was enhanced to 320%.
CONCLUSION: Specific pharmacological inhibition of GPR30 might become a promising targeted therapy for TNBC in future.

Bhola NE, Jansen VM, Bafna S, et al.
Kinome-wide functional screen identifies role of PLK1 in hormone-independent, ER-positive breast cancer.
Cancer Res. 2015; 75(2):405-14 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 15/01/2016 Related Publications
Estrogen receptor (ER) α-positive breast cancers initially respond to antiestrogens but eventually become estrogen independent and recur. ER(+) breast cancer cells resistant to long-term estrogen deprivation (LTED) exhibit hormone-independent ER transcriptional activity and growth. A kinome-wide siRNA screen using a library targeting 720 kinases identified Polo-like kinase 1 (PLK1) as one of the top genes whose downregulation resulted in inhibition of estrogen-independent ER transcriptional activity and growth of LTED cells. High PLK1 mRNA and protein correlated with a high Ki-67 score in primary ER(+) breast cancers after treatment with the aromatase inhibitor letrozole. RNAi-mediated knockdown of PLK1 inhibited ER expression, estrogen-independent growth, and ER transcription in MCF7 and HCC1428 LTED cells. Pharmacologic inhibition of PLK1 with volasertib, a small-molecule ATP-competitive PLK1 inhibitor, decreased LTED cell growth, ER transcriptional activity, and ER expression. Volasertib in combination with the ER antagonist, fulvestrant, decreased MCF7 xenograft growth in ovariectomized mice more potently than each drug alone. JUNB, a component of the AP-1 complex, was expressed 16-fold higher in MCF7/LTED compared with parental MCF7 cells. Furthermore, JUNB and BCL2L1 (which encodes antiapoptotic BCL-xL) mRNA levels were markedly reduced upon volasertib treatment in MCF7/LTED cells, while they were increased in parental MCF7 cells. Finally, JUNB knockdown decreased ER expression and transcriptional activity in MCF7/LTED cells, suggesting that PLK1 drives ER expression and estrogen-independent growth via JUNB. These data support a critical role of PLK1 in acquired hormone-independent growth of ER(+) human breast cancer and is therefore a promising target in tumors that have escaped estrogen deprivation therapy.

Giannopoulou E, Siatis KE, Metsiou D, et al.
The inhibition of aromatase alters the mechanical and rheological properties of non-small-cell lung cancer cell lines affecting cell migration.
Biochim Biophys Acta. 2015; 1853(2):328-37 [PubMed] Related Publications
Tumor invasion and metastasis are key aspects of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). During migration, cells undergo mechanical alterations. The mechanical phenotype of breast cancer cells is correlated with aromatase gene expression. We have previously shown that targeting aromatase is a promising strategy for NSCLC. The aim of this study was to examine morphological and mechanical changes of NSCLC cells, upon treatment with aromatase inhibitor and correlate their ability to migrate and invade. In vitro experiments were performed using H23 and A549 NSCLC cell lines and exemestane was used for aromatase inhibition. We demonstrated that exemestane reduced H23 cell migration and invasion and caused changes in cell morphology including increased vacuolar structures and greater pleomorphism. In addition, exemestane changed the distribution of α-tubulin in H23 and A549 cells in a way that might destabilize microtubules polymerization. These effects were associated with increased cell viscosity and decreased elastic shear modulus. Although exemestane caused similar effects in A549 cells regarding viscosity and elastic shear modulus, it did not affect A549 cell migration and caused an increase in invasion. The increased invasion was in line with vimentin perinuclear localization. Our data show that the treatment of NSCLC cells with an aromatase inhibitor not only affects cell migration and invasion but also alters the mechanical properties of the cells. It suggests that the different origin of cancer cells is associated with different morphological characteristics and mechanical behavior.

Hevir-Kene N, Rižner TL
The endometrial cancer cell lines Ishikawa and HEC-1A, and the control cell line HIEEC, differ in expression of estrogen biosynthetic and metabolic genes, and in androstenedione and estrone-sulfate metabolism.
Chem Biol Interact. 2015; 234:309-19 [PubMed] Related Publications
Estrogens have important roles in the pathogenesis of endometrial cancer. They can have carcinogenic effects through stimulation of cell proliferation or formation of DNA-damaging species. To characterize model cell lines of endometrial cancer, we determined the expression profiles of the estrogen receptors (ERs) ESR1, ESR2 and GPER, and 23 estrogen biosynthetic and metabolic genes, and investigated estrogen biosynthesis in the control HIEEC cell line and the Ishikawa and HEC-1A EC cell lines. HIEEC and Ishikawa expressed all ERs to different extents, while HEC-1A cells lacked expression of ESR1. Considering the estrogen biosynthetic and metabolic enzymes, these cells showed statistically significant different gene expression profiles for SULT2B1, HSD3B2, CYP19A1, AKR1C3, HSD17B1, HSD17B7, HSD17B12, CYP1B1, CYP3A5, COMT, SULT1A1, GSTP1 and NQO2. In these cells, E2 was formed from E1S and E1, while androstenedione was not converted to estrogens. HIEEC and Ishikawa had similar profiles of androstenedione and E1 metabolism, but hydrolysis of E1S to E1 was weaker in Ishikawa cells. HEC-1A cells were less efficient for activation of E1 into the potent E2, but metabolized androstenedione to other androgenic metabolites better than HIEEC and Ishikawa cells. This study reveals that HIEEC, Ishikawa, and HEC-1A cells can all form estrogens only via the sulfatase pathway. HIEEC, Ishikawa, and HEC-1A cells expressed all the major genes in the production of hydroxyestrogens and estrogen quinones, and in their conjugation. Significantly higher CYP1B1 mRNA levels in Ishikawa cells compared to HEC-1A cells, together with lack of UGT2B7 expression, indicate that Ishikawa cells can accumulate more toxic estrogen-3,4-quinones than HEC-1A cells, as also for HIEEC cells. This study provides further characterization of HIEEC, Ishikawa, and HEC-1A cells, and shows that they differ greatly in expression of the genes investigated and in their capacity for E2 formation, and thus they represent different in vitro models.

Habib CN, Al-Abd AM, Tolba MF, et al.
Leptin influences estrogen metabolism and accelerates prostate cell proliferation.
Life Sci. 2015; 121:10-5 [PubMed] Related Publications
AIM: The present study was designed to investigate the effect of leptin on estrogen metabolism in prostatic cells.
MAIN METHODS: Malignant (PC-3) and benign (BPH-1) human prostate cells were treated with 17-β-hydroxyestradiol (1 μM) alone or in combination with leptin (0.4, 4, 40 ng/ml) for 72 h. Cell proliferation assay, immunocytochemical staining of estrogen receptor (ER), liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry method (LC-MS) and semi-quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) were used.
KEY FINDINGS: Cell proliferation assay demonstrated that leptin caused significant growth potentiation in both cells. Immunocytochemical staining showed that leptin significantly increased the expression of ER-α and decreased that of ER-β in PC-3 cells. LC-MS method revealed that leptin increased the concentration 4-hydroxyestrone and/or decreased that of 2-methoxyestradiol, 4-methoxyestradiol and 2-methoxyestrone. Interestingly, RT-PCR showed that leptin significantly up-regulated the expression of aromatase and cytochrome P450 1B1 (CYP1B1) enzymes; however down-regulated the expression of catechol-o-methyltransferase (COMT) enzyme.
SIGNIFICANCE: These data indicate that leptin-induced proliferative effect in prostate cells might be partly attributed to estrogen metabolism. Thus, leptin might be a novel target for therapeutic intervention in prostatic disorders.

Dabydeen SA, Kang K, Díaz-Cruz ES, et al.
Comparison of tamoxifen and letrozole response in mammary preneoplasia of ER and aromatase overexpressing mice defines an immune-associated gene signature linked to tamoxifen resistance.
Carcinogenesis. 2015; 36(1):122-32 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/01/2016 Related Publications
Response to breast cancer chemoprevention can depend upon host genetic makeup and initiating events leading up to preneoplasia. Increased expression of aromatase and estrogen receptor (ER) is found in conjunction with breast cancer. To investigate response or resistance to endocrine therapy, mice with targeted overexpression of Esr1 or CYP19A1 to mammary epithelial cells were employed, representing two direct pathophysiological interventions in estrogen pathway signaling. Both Esr1 and CYP19A1 overexpressing mice responded to letrozole with reduced hyperplastic alveolar nodule prevalence and decreased mammary epithelial cell proliferation. CYP19A1 overexpressing mice were tamoxifen sensitive but Esr1 overexpressing mice were tamoxifen resistant. Increased ER expression occurred with tamoxifen resistance but no consistent changes in progesterone receptor, pSTAT3, pSTAT5, cyclin D1 or cyclin E levels in association with response or resistance were found. RNA-sequencing (RNA-seq) was employed to seek a transcriptome predictive of tamoxifen resistance using these models and a second tamoxifen-resistant model, BRCA1 deficient/Trp53 haploinsufficient mice. Sixty-eight genes associated with immune system processing were upregulated in tamoxifen-resistant Esr1- and Brca1-deficient mice, whereas genes related to aromatic compound metabolic process were upregulated in tamoxifen-sensitive CYP19A1 mice. Interferon regulatory factor 7 was identified as a key transcription factor regulating these 68 immune processing genes. Two loci encoding novel transcripts with high homology to human immunoglobulin lambda-like polypeptide 1 were uniquely upregulated in the tamoxifen-resistant models. Letrozole proved to be a successful alternative to tamoxifen. Further study of transcriptional changes associated with tamoxifen resistance including immune-related genes could expand our mechanistic understanding and lead to biomarkers predictive of escape or response to endocrine therapies.

Schwarz LJ, Fox EM, Balko JM, et al.
LYN-activating mutations mediate antiestrogen resistance in estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer.
J Clin Invest. 2014; 124(12):5490-502 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/01/2016 Related Publications
Estrogen receptor-positive (ER(+)) breast cancers adapt to hormone deprivation and become resistant to antiestrogen therapy. Here, we performed deep sequencing on ER(+) tumors that remained highly proliferative after treatment with the aromatase inhibitor letrozole and identified a D189Y mutation in the inhibitory SH2 domain of the SRC family kinase (SFK) LYN. Evaluation of 463 breast tumors in The Cancer Genome Atlas revealed four LYN mutations, two of which affected the SH2 domain. In addition, LYN was upregulated in multiple ER(+) breast cancer lines resistant to long-term estrogen deprivation (LTED). An RNAi-based kinome screen revealed that LYN is required for growth of ER(+) LTED breast cancer cells. Kinase assays and immunoblot analyses of SRC substrates in transfected cells indicated that LYN(D189Y) has higher catalytic activity than WT protein. Further, LYN(D189Y) exhibited reduced phosphorylation at the inhibitory Y507 site compared with LYN(WT). Other SH2 domain LYN mutants, E159K and K209N, also exhibited higher catalytic activity and reduced inhibitory site phosphorylation. LYN(D189Y) overexpression abrogated growth inhibition by fulvestrant and/or the PI3K inhibitor BKM120 in 3 ER(+) breast cancer cell lines. The SFK inhibitor dasatinib enhanced the antitumor effect of BKM120 and fulvestrant against estrogen-deprived ER(+) xenografts but not LYN(D189Y)-expressing xenografts. These results suggest that LYN mutations mediate escape from antiestrogens in a subset of ER(+) breast cancers.

Rangel LB, Taraba JL, Frei CR, et al.
Pharmacogenomic diversity of tamoxifen metabolites and estrogen receptor genes in Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites with breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2014; 148(3):571-80 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/01/2016 Related Publications
Ethnic differences in patient genetics and breast cancer (BC) biology contribute to ethnic disparities in cancer presentation and patient outcome. We prospectively evaluated SNPs within phase I and phase II tamoxifen (TAM) metabolizing enzymes, and the estrogen receptor gene (ESR1), aiming to identify potential pharmacogenomic ethnicity patterns in an ER-positive BC cohort constituted of Hispanic and Non-Hispanic White (NHW) women in South Texas. Plasma concentrations of TAM/metabolites were measured using HPLC. CYP2C9, CYP2D6 and SULT1A1 genotypes were determined by DNA sequencing/Pyrosequencing technology. ESR1 PvuII and XbaI SNPs were genotyped using Applied Biosystems Taqman Allelic Discrimination Assay. Hispanics had higher levels of TAM, 4-hydroxytamoxifen, and endoxifen than NHWs. There was a higher prevalence of CYP2D6 EM within Hispanics than NHWs, which corresponded to higher endoxifen levels, but no differences were verified with regard to CYP2C9 and SULT1A1. We found a higher incidence of the wild type forms of the ESR1 in Hispanics than NHWs. The performance status, the disease stage at diagnosis, and the use of aromatase inhibitors might have overcome the overall favorable pharmacogenomics profile of Hispanics when compared to NHWs in relation to TAM therapy responsiveness. Our data strongly point to ethnical peculiarities related to pharmacogenomics and demographic features of TAM treated Hispanics and NHWs. In the era of pharmacogenomics and its ultimate goal of individualized, efficacious and safe therapy, cancer studies focused on the Hispanic population are warranted because this is the fastest growing major demographic group, and an understudied segment in the U.S.

Zhao PL, Zhang QF, Yan LY, et al.
Functional investigation on aromatase in endometrial hyperplasia in polycystic ovary syndrome cases.
Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2014; 15(20):8975-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
OBJECTIVE: To explore the possible significance of aromatase P450 in endometrial hyperplasia with a background of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
METHODS: Immunohistochemistry was used to determine the expression of aromatase P450 in endometrium of PCOS patients. Semiquantitative analysis of aromatase P450 expression of mRNA and protein level wasalso carried out by real-time quantitative RT-PCR method. After endometrial cells were stimulated by testosterone and letrozole in vitro, the estradiol (E2) level was determined, and the expression of cell aromatase P450 mRNA was assessed.
RESULTS: The aromatase P450 mRNA level was increased in endometria of PCOS patients. When endometrial cells were cultured with 10-6 M testosterone, the E2 level in the culture medium increased. An inhibitory effect on E2 generation and expression of aromatase P450 mRNA was observed when the endometrial cells were treated with 10(-5) M letrozole.
CONCLUSIONS: There is an increased expression of aromatase P450 in PCOS patient endometrium. Androgen stimulation could enhance the synthesis of aromatase P450 mRNA and the production of E2 in endometrial cells in vitro while letrozole could do the reverse.

Ribas R, Ghazoui Z, Gao Q, et al.
Identification of chemokine receptors as potential modulators of endocrine resistance in oestrogen receptor-positive breast cancers.
Breast Cancer Res. 2014; 16(5):447 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/01/2016 Related Publications
INTRODUCTION: Endocrine therapies target oestrogenic stimulation of breast cancer (BC) growth, but resistance remains problematic. Our aims in this study were (1) to identify genes most strongly associated with resistance to endocrine therapy by intersecting global gene transcription data from patients treated presurgically with the aromatase inhibitor anastrazole with those from MCF7 cells adapted to long-term oestrogen deprivation (LTED) (2) to assess the clinical value of selected genes in public clinical data sets and (3) to determine the impact of targeting these genes with novel agents.
METHODS: Gene expression and Ki67 data were available from 69 postmenopausal women with oestrogen receptor-positive (ER+) early BC, at baseline and 2 weeks after anastrazole treatment, and from cell lines adapted to LTED. The functional consequences of target genes on proliferation, ER-mediated transcription and downstream cell signalling were assessed.
RESULTS: By intersecting genes predictive of a poor change in Ki67 with those upregulated in LTED cells, we identified 32 genes strongly correlated with poor antiproliferative response that were associated with inflammation and/or immunity. In a panel of LTED cell lines, C-X-C chemokine receptor type 7 (CXCR7) and CXCR4 were upregulated compared to their wild types (wt), and CXCR7, but not CXCR4, was associated with reduced relapse-free survival in patients with ER+ BC. The CXCR4 small interfering RNA variant (siCXCR4) had no specific effect on the proliferation of wt-SUM44, wt-MCF7 and their LTED derivatives. In contrast, siCXCR7, as well as CCX733, a CXCR7 antagonist, specifically suppressed the proliferation of MCF7-LTED cells. siCXCR7 suppressed proteins associated with G1/S transition and inhibited ER transactivation in MCF7-LTED, but not wt-MCF7, by impeding association between ER and proline-, glutamic acid- and leucine-rich protein 1, an ER coactivator.
CONCLUSIONS: These data highlight CXCR7 as a potential therapeutic target warranting clinical investigation in endocrine-resistant BC.

Markkula A, Simonsson M, Ingvar C, et al.
IL6 genotype, tumour ER-status, and treatment predicted disease-free survival in a prospective breast cancer cohort.
BMC Cancer. 2014; 14:759 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/01/2016 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: In breast cancer, high levels of the inflammatory cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6) have been associated with disease-free survival and treatment resistance. Increased serum levels of IL-6 have been correlated with increased levels of NF-κβ and aromatase expression in adipose tissue. Several IL6 single nucleotide polymorphisms have been associated with breast cancer prognosis, but the impact may differ depending on tumour oestrogen receptor (ER) status. This translational study investigated the association between IL6 genotypes, ER-status, and treatment on the risk of early events among breast cancer patients.
METHODS: The study included 634 25- to 99-year-old primary breast cancer patients in Sweden from 2002-2008. Genotyped IL6 single nucleotide polymorphisms rs1800797, rs1800796, rs1800795, and rs2069849 were analysed separately and as diplotypes. Disease-free survival was assessed for 567 patients. Clinical data, patient-, and tumour-characteristics were obtained from questionnaires, patient charts, population registries, and pathology reports.
RESULTS: The median follow-up time was 5.1 years. IL6 diplotype was not associated with early events for all 567 patients, but AGCC/AGCC diplotype-carriers with ER-negative tumours had an increased risk, (adjusted Hazard Ratio (HR) = 5.91, 95% CI: 1.28-27.42). Any C-carriers (rs1800795) with ER-negative tumours had a higher risk of early events than GG-carriers with ER-negative tumours, (adjusted HR = 3.76, 95% CI: 1.05-13.43), particularly after radiotherapy (adjusted HR = 7.17, 95% CI: 1.16-32.28). Irrespective of ER-status, chemotherapy-treated Any C-carriers had a higher risk of early events than GG-carriers (adjusted HR = 3.42, 95% CI: 1.01-11.54).
CONCLUSIONS: The main finding of the present study was that IL6 genotype was strongly associated with early events among patients with ER-negative tumours, particularly among radiotherapy-treated patients, and among chemotherapy-treated patients irrespective of ER-status. The high risk for early events observed in these subgroups of patients suggests that combined information on IL6 genotype, tumour ER-status, and breast cancer treatment may represent a tool for identifying patients who require more personalised treatment.

Moravek MB, Yin P, Ono M, et al.
Ovarian steroids, stem cells and uterine leiomyoma: therapeutic implications.
Hum Reprod Update. 2015 Jan-Feb; 21(1):1-12 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/01/2016 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Uterine leiomyoma is the most common benign tumor in women and is thought to arise from the clonal expansion of a single myometrial smooth muscle cell transformed by a cellular insult. Leiomyomas cause a variety of symptoms, including abnormal uterine bleeding, pelvic pain, bladder or bowel dysfunction, and recurrent pregnancy loss, and are the most common indication for hysterectomy in the USA. A slow rate of cell proliferation, combined with the production of copious amounts of extracellular matrix, accounts for tumor expansion. A common salient feature of leiomyomas is their responsiveness to steroid hormones, thus providing an opportunity for intervention.
METHODS: A comprehensive search of PUBMED was conducted to identify peer-reviewed literature published since 1980 pertinent to the roles of steroid hormones and somatic stem cells in leiomyoma, including literature on therapeutics that target steroid hormone action in leiomyoma. Reviewed articles were restricted to English language only. Studies in both animals and humans were reviewed for the manuscript.
RESULTS: Estrogen stimulates the growth of leiomyomas, which are exposed to this hormone not only through ovarian steroidogenesis, but also through local conversion of androgens by aromatase within the tumors themselves. The primary action of estrogen, together with its receptor estrogen receptor α (ERα), is likely mediated via induction of progesterone receptor (PR) expression, thereby allowing leiomyoma responsiveness to progesterone. Progesterone has been shown to stimulate the growth of leiomyoma through a set of key genes that regulate both apoptosis and proliferation. Given these findings, aromatase inhibitors and antiprogestins have been developed for the treatment of leiomyoma, but neither treatment results in complete regression of leiomyoma, and tumors recur after treatment is stopped. Recently, distinct cell populations were discovered in leiomyomas; a small population showed stem-progenitor cell properties, and was found to be essential for ovarian steroid-dependent growth of leiomyomas. Interestingly, these stem-progenitor cells were deficient in ERα and PR and instead relied on the strikingly higher levels of these receptors in surrounding differentiated cells to mediate estrogen and progesterone action via paracrine signaling.
CONCLUSIONS: It has been well established that estrogen and progesterone are involved in the proliferation and maintenance of uterine leiomyoma, and the majority of medical treatments currently available for leiomyoma work by inhibiting steroid hormone production or action. A pitfall of these therapeutics is that they decrease leiomyoma size, but do not completely eradicate them, and tumors tend to regrow once treatment is stopped. The recent discovery of stem cells and their paracrine interactions with more differentiated cell populations within leiomyoma has the potential to provide the missing link between developing therapeutics that temper leiomyoma growth and those that eradicate them.

Ou O, Huppi K, Chakka S, et al.
Loss-of-function RNAi screens in breast cancer cells identify AURKB, PLK1, PIK3R1, MAPK12, PRKD2, and PTK6 as sensitizing targets of rapamycin activity.
Cancer Lett. 2014; 354(2):336-47 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 28/11/2015 Related Publications
The use of molecularly targeted drugs as single agents has shown limited utility in many tumor types, largely due to the complex and redundant nature of oncogenic signaling networks. Targeting of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway through inhibition of mTOR in combination with aromatase inhibitors has seen success in particular sub-types of breast cancer and there is a need to identify additional synergistic combinations to maximize the clinical potential of mTOR inhibitors. We have used loss-of-function RNAi screens of the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin to identify sensitizers of mTOR inhibition. RNAi screens conducted in combination with rapamycin in multiple breast cancer cell lines identified six genes, AURKB, PLK1, PIK3R1, MAPK12, PRKD2, and PTK6 that when silenced, each enhanced the sensitivity of multiple breast cancer lines to rapamycin. Using selective pharmacological agents we confirmed that inhibition of AURKB or PLK1 synergizes with rapamycin. Compound-associated gene expression data suggested histone deacetylation (HDAC) inhibition as a strategy for reducing the expression of several of the rapamycin-sensitizing genes, and we tested and validated this using the HDAC inhibitor entinostat in vitro and in vivo. Our findings indicate new approaches for enhancing the efficacy of rapamycin including the use of combining its application with HDAC inhibition.

Fujii R, Hanamura T, Suzuki T, et al.
Increased androgen receptor activity and cell proliferation in aromatase inhibitor-resistant breast carcinoma.
J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2014; 144 Pt B:513-22 [PubMed] Related Publications
Aromatase inhibitors (AI) are commonly used to treat postmenopausal estrogen-receptor (ER)-positive breast carcinoma. However, resistance to AI is sometimes acquired, and the molecular mechanisms underlying such resistance are largely unclear. Recent studies suggest that AI treatment increases androgen activity during estrogen deprivation in breast carcinoma, but the role of the androgen receptor (AR) in breast carcinoma is still a matter of controversy. The purpose of this study is to examine the potential correlation between the AR- and AI-resistant breast carcinoma. To this end, we performed immunohistochemical analysis of 21 pairs of primary breast carcinoma and corresponding AI-resistant recurrent tissue samples and established two stable variant cell lines from ER-positive T-47D breast carcinoma cell line as AI-resistance models and used them in in vitro experiments. Immunohistochemical analysis demonstrated that the expression of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and Ki-67 were significantly higher and ER and progesterone receptor (PR) were lower in recurrent lesions compared to the corresponding primary lesions. Variant cell lines overexpressed AR and PSA and exhibited neither growth response to estrogen nor expression of ER. Androgen markedly induced the proliferation of these cell lines. In addition, the expression profile of androgen-induced genes was markedly different between variant and parental cell lines as determined by microarray analysis. These results suggest that in some cases of ER-positive breast carcinoma, tumor cells possibly change from ER-dependent to AR-dependent, rendering them resistant to AI. AR inhibitors may thus be effective in a selected group of patients.

Rechoum Y, Rovito D, Iacopetta D, et al.
AR collaborates with ERα in aromatase inhibitor-resistant breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2014; 147(3):473-85 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 28/11/2015 Related Publications
Androgen receptor (AR) is an attractive target in breast cancer because of its frequent expression in all the molecular subtypes, especially in estrogen receptor (ER)-positive luminal breast cancers. We have previously shown a role for AR overexpression in tamoxifen resistance. We engineered ER-positive MCF-7 cells to overexpress aromatase and AR (MCF-7 AR Arom cells) to explore the role of AR in aromatase inhibitor (AI) resistance. Androstendione (AD) was used as a substrate for aromatization to estrogen. The nonsteroidal AI anastrazole (Ana) inhibited AD-stimulated growth and ER transcriptional activity in MCF-7 Arom cells, but not in MCF-7 AR Arom cells. Enhanced activation of pIGF-1R and pAKT was found in AR-overexpressing cells, and their inhibitors restored sensitivity to Ana, suggesting that these pathways represent escape survival mechanisms. Sensitivity to Ana was restored with AR antagonists, or the antiestrogen fulvestrant. These results suggest that both AR and ERα must be blocked to restore sensitivity to hormonal therapies in AR-overexpressing ERα-positive breast cancers. AR contributed to ERα transcriptional activity in MCF-7 AR Arom cells, and AR and ERα co-localized in AD + Ana-treated cells, suggesting cooperation between the two receptors. AR-mediated resistance was associated with a failure to block ER transcriptional activity and enhanced up-regulation of AR and ER-responsive gene expression. Clinically, it may be necessary to block both AR and ERα in patients whose tumors express elevated levels of AR. In addition, inhibitors to the AKT/IGF-1R signaling pathways may provide alternative approaches to block escape pathways and restore hormone sensitivity in resistant breast tumors.

Eriksen MB, Glintborg D, Nielsen MF, et al.
Testosterone treatment increases androgen receptor and aromatase gene expression in myotubes from patients with PCOS and controls, but does not induce insulin resistance.
Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2014; 451(4):622-6 [PubMed] Related Publications
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is associated with insulin resistance and increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Skeletal muscle is the major site of insulin mediated glucose disposal and the skeletal muscle tissue is capable to synthesize, convert and degrade androgens. Insulin sensitivity is conserved in cultured myotubes (in vitro) from patients with PCOS, but the effect of testosterone on this insulin sensitivity is unknown. We investigated the effect of 7days testosterone treatment (100nmol/l) on glucose transport and gene expression levels of hormone receptors and enzymes involved in the synthesis and conversion of testosterone (HSD17B1, HSD17B2, CYP19A1, SRD5A1-2, AR, ER-α, HSD17B6 and AKR1-3) in myotubes from ten patients with PCOS and ten matched controls. Testosterone treatment significantly increased aromatase and androgen receptor gene expression levels in patients and controls. Glucose transport in myotubes was comparable in patients with PCOS vs. controls and was unchanged by testosterone treatment (p=0.21 PCOS vs. controls). These results suggest that testosterone treatment of myotubes increases the aromatase and androgen receptor gene expression without affecting insulin sensitivity and if testosterone is implicated in muscular insulin resistance in PCOS, this is by and indirect mechanism.

Singer CF, Bennink HJ, Natter C, et al.
Antiestrogenic effects of the fetal estrogen estetrol in women with estrogen-receptor positive early breast cancer.
Carcinogenesis. 2014; 35(11):2447-51 [PubMed] Related Publications
Estetrol (E4) is a fetal estrogen with estrogenic effects on reproductive organs and bone in preclinical models and in postmenopausal women. However, E4 exerts antiestrogenic effects on breast cancer (BC) cell growth in vitro and in vivo. We have investigated the effect of 14 days preoperative treatment with 20mg E4 per day on tumor proliferation markers, sex steroid receptor expression and endocrine parameters in a prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled, preoperative window trial in 30 pre- and post-menopausal women with estrogen-receptor positive early BC. E4 had a significant pro-apoptotic effect on tumor tissue, whereas Ki67 expression remained unchanged in both pre- and post-menopausal women. E4 increased sex-hormone-binding globulin significantly thereby reducing the concentrations of bioavailable estradiol. Follicle-stimulating hormone levels decreased in postmenopausal women only and luteinizing hormone levels remained unchanged. Systemic insulin growth factor-1 levels decreased significantly. Intratumoral epithelial ERα expression decreased significantly and a trend was found towards an increased expression of ERβ. This clinical data support the preclinical findings that E4 has antiestrogenic effects on BC cells, whereas earlier studies have shown that E4 has estrogenic effects on reproductive tissues and bone. Further clinical studies seem acceptable and are needed to confirm the safety and efficacy of E4 for the breast in hormone replacement therapy, including hormone replacement therapy in women who have or have had BC, especially in those BC patients treated with aromatase inhibitors and suffering from serious complaints due to estrogen deficiency.

Thomin A, Friszer S, Fajac A, et al.
Hormonal prevention of breast cancer.
Ann Endocrinol (Paris). 2014; 75(3):148-55 [PubMed] Related Publications
Breast cancer prevention can be provided by using SERMs or aromatase inhibitors depending on the ovarian status, with a global risk reduction of 50 to 60%. Prophylactic annexectomy offered to reduce ovarian risk in BRCA mutation carriers also lowers breast cancer risk by 50%. Main side effects include deep vein thrombosis for SERMs, hot flushes and joint pain (although less frequently than initially suspected) with aromatase inhibitors. Other strategies based on progesterone, insulin or prolactin signaling modulation may be offered in the future. Criteria for candidate selection remain to be established.

López-Knowles E, Segal CV, Gao Q, et al.
Relationship of PIK3CA mutation and pathway activity with antiproliferative response to aromatase inhibition.
Breast Cancer Res. 2014; 16(3):R68 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 28/11/2015 Related Publications
INTRODUCTION: PIK3CA (phosphatidylinositol-4,5-bisphosphate 3-kinase, catalytic subunit α) somatic mutations are the most common genetic alteration in breast cancer (BC). Their prognostic value and that of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway in BC remains only partly defined. The effect of PIK3CA mutations and alterations of the PI3K pathway on the antiproliferative response to aromatase inhibitor treatment was determined.
METHODS: The Sequenom MassARRAY System was used to determine the presence of 20 somatic mutations across the PIK3CA gene in 85 oestrogen receptor-positive (ER+) BC patients treated with 2 weeks of anastrozole before surgery. Whole-genome expression profiles were used to interrogate gene signatures (GSs) associated with the PI3K pathway. Antiproliferative activity was assessed by the change in Ki67 staining between baseline and surgery. Three GSs representing the PI3K pathway were assessed (PIK3CA-GS (Loi), PI3K-GS (Creighton) and PTEN-loss-GS (Saal)).
RESULTS: In our study sample, 29% of tumours presented with either a hotspot (HS, 71%) or a nonhotspot (non-HS, 29%) PIK3CA mutation. Mutations were associated with markers of good prognosis such as progesterone receptor positivity (PgR+) (P=0.006), low grade (P=0.028) and luminal A subtype (P=0.039), with a trend towards significance with degree of ER positivity (P=0.051) and low levels of Ki67 (P=0.051). Non-HS mutations were associated with higher PgR (P=0.014) and ER (P<0.001) expression than both wild-type (WT) and HS-mutated samples, whereas neither biomarker differed significantly between WT and HS mutations or between HS and non-HS mutations. An inverse correlation was found between the Loi signature and both the Creighton and Saal signatures, and a positive correlation was found between the latter signatures. Lower pretreatment Ki67 levels were observed in mutation compared with WT samples (P=0.051), which was confirmed in an independent data set. Mutation status did not predict change in Ki67 in response to 2 weeks of anastrozole treatment; there was no significant difference between HS and non-HS mutations in this regard.
CONCLUSIONS: PIK3CA mutations are associated with classical markers of good prognosis and signatures of PI3K pathway activity. The presence of a PIK3CA mutation does not preclude a response to neoadjuvant anastrozole treatment.

Chottanapund S, Van Duursen MB, Navasumrit P, et al.
Anti-aromatase effect of resveratrol and melatonin on hormonal positive breast cancer cells co-cultured with breast adipose fibroblasts.
Toxicol In Vitro. 2014; 28(7):1215-21 [PubMed] Related Publications
Targeting the estrogen pathway has been proven effective in the treatment for estrogen receptor positive breast cancer. There are currently two common groups of anti-estrogenic compounds used in the clinic; Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERMs, e.g. tamoxifen) and Selective Estrogen Enzyme Modulators (SEEMs e.g. letrozole). Among various naturally occurring, biologically active compounds, resveratrol and melatonin have been suggested to act as aromatase inhibitors, which make them potential candidates in hormonal treatment of breast cancer. Here we used a co-culture model in which we previously demonstrated that primary human breast adipose fibroblasts (BAFs) can convert testosterone to estradiol, which subsequently results in estrogen receptor-mediated breast cancer T47D cell proliferation. In the presence of testosterone in this model, we examined the effect of letrozole, resveratrol and melatonin on cell proliferation, estradiol (E2) production and gene expression of CYP19A1, pS2 and Ki-67. Both melatonin and resveratrol were found to be aromatase inhibitors in this co-culture system, albeit at different concentrations. Our co-culture model did not provide any indications that melatonin is also a selective estrogen receptor modulator. In the T47D-BAF co-culture, a melatonin concentration of 20 nM and resveratrol concentration of 20 μM have an aromatase inhibitory effect as potent as 20 nM letrozole, which is a clinically used anti-aromatase drug in breast cancer treatment. The SEEM mechanism of action of especially melatonin clearly offers potential advantages for breast cancer treatment.

Catalano S, Giordano C, Panza S, et al.
Tamoxifen through GPER upregulates aromatase expression: a novel mechanism sustaining tamoxifen-resistant breast cancer cell growth.
Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2014; 146(2):273-85 [PubMed] Related Publications
Tamoxifen resistance is a major clinical challenge in breast cancer treatment. Aromatase inhibitors are effective in women who progressed or recurred on tamoxifen, suggesting a role of local estrogen production by aromatase in driving tamoxifen-resistant phenotype. However, the link between aromatase activity and tamoxifen resistance has not yet been reported. We investigated whether long-term tamoxifen exposure may affect aromatase activity and/or expression, which may then sustain tamoxifen-resistant breast cancer cell growth. We employed MCF-7 breast cancer cells, tamoxifen-resistant MCF-7 cells (MCF-7 TR1 and TR2), SKBR-3 breast cancer cells, cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs1 and CAFs2). We used tritiated-water release assay, realtime-RT-PCR, and immunoblotting analysis for evaluating aromatase activity and expression; anchorage-independent assays for growth; reporter-gene, electrophoretic-mobility-shift, and chromatin-immunoprecipitation assays for promoter activity studies. We demonstrated an increased aromatase activity and expression, which supports proliferation in tamoxifen-resistant breast cancer cells. This is mediated by the G-protein-coupled receptor GPR30/GPER, since knocking-down GPER expression or treatment with a GPER antagonist reversed the enhanced aromatase levels induced by long-term tamoxifen exposure. The molecular mechanism was investigated in ER-negative, GPER/aromatase-positive SKBR3 cells, in which tamoxifen acts as a GPER agonist. Tamoxifen treatment increased aromatase promoter activity through an enhanced recruitment of c-fos/c-jun complex to AP-1 responsive elements located within the promoter region. As tamoxifen via GPER induced aromatase expression also in CAFs, this pathway may be involved in promoting aggressive behavior of breast tumors in response to tamoxifen treatment. Blocking estrogen production and/or GPER signaling activation may represent a valid option to overcome tamoxifen-resistance in breast cancers.

Kim J, Jayaprakasha GK, Patil BS
Obacunone exhibits anti-proliferative and anti-aromatase activity in vitro by inhibiting the p38 MAPK signaling pathway in MCF-7 human breast adenocarcinoma cells.
Biochimie. 2014; 105:36-44 [PubMed] Related Publications
Overexpression of the aromatase enzyme CYP19 has been implicated in the onset of estrogen-dependent breast carcinogenesis. Obacunone, a natural compound present in citrus fruits, has been demonstrated for various biological activities including anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. In the present study, we have isolated obacunone and obacunone glucoside (OG) from lemon seeds, then fractionated these compounds using chromatographic techniques and characterized them by HPLC, LC-MS, and 2D NMR spectral analysis. To investigate the mechanism of anti-cancer and anti-aromatase activities of limonoids, their cytotoxic effect was tested on human breast cancer (MCF-7) and non-malignant (MCF-12F) breast cells. MTT assays confirmed that obacunone was strongly inhibited MCF-7 cell proliferation without affecting non-malignant breast cells. Treatment with obacunone increased apoptosis by up-regulating expression of the pro-apoptotic protein Bax and down-regulating the anti-apoptotic protein Bcl2, as well as inducing G1 cell cycle arrest. In addition, obacunone significantly inhibited aromatase activity in an in vitro enzyme assay. Exposure of MCF-7 breast cancer cells to obacunone down-regulated expression of inflammatory molecules including nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2). Furthermore, we found that obacunone inhibited COX-2 and NF-κB by activation of the p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK). Finally, the uptake level of obacunone into MCF-7 cells was measured by HPLC and its structure was confirmed by LC-HR-MS. This study demonstrated that obacunone may have the potential to prevent estrogen-responsive breast cancer through inhibition of the aromatase enzyme and inflammatory pathways, as well as activation of apoptosis.

Wong TY, Li F, Lin SM, et al.
Celecoxib increases miR-222 while deterring aromatase-expressing breast tumor growth in mice.
BMC Cancer. 2014; 14:426 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 28/11/2015 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Breast cancer is one of the most deadly diseases in women. Inhibiting the synthesis of estrogen is effective in treating patients with estrogen-responsive breast cancer. Previous studies have demonstrated that use of cyclooxygenase (COX) inhibitors is associated with reduced breast cancer risk.
METHODS: In the present study, we employed an established mouse model for postmenopausal breast cancer to evaluate the potential mechanisms of the COX-2 inhibitor celecoxib. Aromatase-expressing MCF-7 cells were transplanted into ovariectomized athymic mice. The animals were given celecoxib at 1500 ppm or aspirin at 200 ppm by oral administration with androstenedione injection.
RESULTS: Our results showed that both COX inhibitors could suppress the cancer xenograft growth without changing the plasma estrogen level. Protein expression of ERα, COX-2, Cyclin A, and Bcl-xL were reduced in celecoxib-treated tumor samples, whereas only Bcl-xL expression was suppressed in those treated with aspirin. Among the breast cancer-related miRNAs, miR-222 expression was elevated in samples treated with celecoxib. Further studies in culture cells verified that the increase in miR-222 expression might contribute to ERα downregulation but not the growth deterrence of cells.
CONCLUSION: Overall, this study suggested that both celecoxib and aspirin could prevent breast cancer growth by regulating proteins in the cell cycle and apoptosis without blocking estrogen synthesis. Besides, celecoxib might affect miR expression in an undesirable fashion.

Aguilar H, Urruticoechea A, Halonen P, et al.
VAV3 mediates resistance to breast cancer endocrine therapy.
Breast Cancer Res. 2014; 16(3):R53 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 28/11/2015 Related Publications
INTRODUCTION: Endocrine therapies targeting cell proliferation and survival mediated by estrogen receptor α (ERα) are among the most effective systemic treatments for ERα-positive breast cancer. However, most tumors initially responsive to these therapies acquire resistance through mechanisms that involve ERα transcriptional regulatory plasticity. Herein we identify VAV3 as a critical component in this process.
METHODS: A cell-based chemical compound screen was carried out to identify therapeutic strategies against resistance to endocrine therapy. Binding to ERα was evaluated by molecular docking analyses, an agonist fluoligand assay and short hairpin (sh)RNA-mediated protein depletion. Microarray analyses were performed to identify altered gene expression. Western blot analysis of signaling and proliferation markers, and shRNA-mediated protein depletion in viability and clonogenic assays, were performed to delineate the role of VAV3. Genetic variation in VAV3 was assessed for association with the response to tamoxifen. Immunohistochemical analyses of VAV3 were carried out to determine its association with therapeutic response and different tumor markers. An analysis of gene expression association with drug sensitivity was carried out to identify a potential therapeutic approach based on differential VAV3 expression.
RESULTS: The compound YC-1 was found to comparatively reduce the viability of cell models of acquired resistance. This effect was probably not due to activation of its canonical target (soluble guanylyl cyclase), but instead was likely a result of binding to ERα. VAV3 was selectively reduced upon exposure to YC-1 or ERα depletion, and, accordingly, VAV3 depletion comparatively reduced the viability of cell models of acquired resistance. In the clinical scenario, germline variation in VAV3 was associated with the response to tamoxifen in Japanese breast cancer patients (rs10494071 combined P value = 8.4 × 10-4). The allele association combined with gene expression analyses indicated that low VAV3 expression predicts better clinical outcome. Conversely, high nuclear VAV3 expression in tumor cells was associated with poorer endocrine therapy response. Based on VAV3 expression levels and the response to erlotinib in cancer cell lines, targeting EGFR signaling may be a promising therapeutic strategy.
CONCLUSIONS: This study proposes VAV3 as a biomarker and a rationale for its use as a signaling target to prevent and/or overcome resistance to endocrine therapy in breast cancer.

To SQ, Knower KC, Cheung V, et al.
Transcriptional control of local estrogen formation by aromatase in the breast.
J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2015; 145:179-86 [PubMed] Related Publications
Aromatase is the critical enzyme that converts androgens to estrogens. It is frequently highly expressed in the tumour bearing breast of women diagnosed with estrogen receptor positive tumours, resulting in dramatically increased local estrogen production to drive tumour progression. Expression of aromatase is regulated primarily at the transcriptional level of its encoding gene CYP19A1, located on chromosome 15 of the human genome. A characteristic feature of CYP19A1 expression is its use of alternative promoters to regulate transcription in a tissue-specific manner. In breast cancer, the increase in aromatase expression is mediated via higher expression of the distal adipose-specific promoter I.4 and a switch to the preferential use of proximal promoters I.3 and II. This results in a net increase of CYP19A1 transcripts in tumour-bearing breast up to 3-4-fold higher than normal breast. Current aromatase inhibitors - whilst efficacious - exhibit significant side effects that reduce patient compliance. Understanding the transcription factors and signalling pathways that control aromatase expression will lead to opportunities to develop breast-specific inhibitors with an improved side-effects profile. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled 'Essential role of DHEA'.

Phuong NT, Lim SC, Kim YM, Kang KW
Aromatase induction in tamoxifen-resistant breast cancer: Role of phosphoinositide 3-kinase-dependent CREB activation.
Cancer Lett. 2014; 351(1):91-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
Estrogens are important for the development and growth of estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer, for which anti-estrogen therapy is one of the most effective treatments. However, its efficacy can be limited by either de novo or acquired resistance. Aromatase is a key enzyme for the biosynthesis of estrogens, and inhibition of this enzyme leads to profound hypoestrogenism. Here, we found that the basal expression and activity of aromatase were significantly increased in tamoxifen (TAM)-resistant human breast cancer (TAMR-MCF-7) cells compared to control MCF-7 cells. We further revealed that aromatase immunoreactivity in tumor tissues was increased in recurrence group after TAM therapy compared to non-recurrence group after TAM therapy. Phosphorylation of Akt, extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), and p38 kinase were all increased in TAMR-MCF-7 cells. Inhibition of phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) suppressed the transactivation of the aromatase gene and its enzyme activity. Furthermore, we have also shown that PI3K/Akt-dependent cAMP-response element binding protein (CREB) activation was required for the enhanced expression of aromatase in TAMR-MCF-7 cells. Our findings suggest that aromatase expression is up-regulated in TAM-resistant breast cancer via PI3K/Akt-dependent CREB activation.

Kohno M, Okamoto T, Suda K, et al.
Prognostic and therapeutic implications of aromatase expression in lung adenocarcinomas with EGFR mutations.
Clin Cancer Res. 2014; 20(13):3613-22 [PubMed] Related Publications
PURPOSE: Lung adenocarcinomas among never-smokers are more common in females than in males. This implies that gender-dependent hormones promote smoking unrelated lung adenocarcinoma. We therefore investigated mRNA expression of aromatase, an intrinsic estrogen synthetase, in lung adenocarcinoma and assessed its correlation to clinicopathologic factors, including EGFR mutations and postsurgical prognosis.
EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: Aromatase mRNA expression in primary tumor samples from 110 patients with lung adenocarcinoma was evaluated with qRT-PCR. Inhibitory effects of the aromatase inhibitor exemestane were assessed in lung adenocarcinoma cell lines (11-18 and HCC4006), which have EGFR mutations, separately and combined with EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor erlotinib.
RESULTS: Aromatase gene expression was not correlated with patients' clinicopathologic factors, including EGFR mutation status. High aromatase expression was associated with poor prognosis for both recurrence-free survival (P = 0.004) and overall survival (P = 0.003). In addition, the prognostic significance of aromatase expression was limited to females, never-smokers, and patients with EGFR mutations, but not in their counterparts. HCC4006, which has a low aromatase mRNA expression level, was not sensitive to exemestane, either alone or combined with erlotinib. In contrast, growth of 11-18 cells, which have high aromatase expression, was significantly inhibited by exemestane, both alone and combined with erlotinib.
CONCLUSIONS: Aromatase is a candidate prognostic factor in patients with lung adenocarcinoma, especially in those with EGFR mutations, and may also be a beneficial therapeutic target in those patients.

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