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Open access

Jonathan W Nyce

The activation of TP53 is well known to exert tumor suppressive effects. We have detected a primate-specific adrenal androgen-mediated tumor suppression system in which circulating DHEAS is converted to DHEA specifically in cells in which TP53 has been inactivated. DHEA is an uncompetitive inhibitor of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD), an enzyme indispensable for maintaining reactive oxygen species within limits survivable by the cell. Uncompetitive inhibition is otherwise unknown in natural systems because it becomes irreversible in the presence of high concentrations of substrate and inhibitor. In addition to primate-specific circulating DHEAS, a unique, primate-specific sequence motif that disables an activating regulatory site in the glucose-6-phosphatase (G6PC) promoter was also required to enable function of this previously unrecognized tumor suppression system. In human somatic cells, loss of TP53 thus triggers activation of DHEAS transport proteins and steroid sulfatase, which converts circulating DHEAS into intracellular DHEA, and hexokinase which increases glucose-6-phosphate substrate concentration. The triggering of these enzymes in the TP53-affected cell combines with the primate-specific G6PC promoter sequence motif that enables G6P substrate accumulation, driving uncompetitive inhibition of G6PD to irreversibility and ROS-mediated cell death. By this catastrophic ‘kill switch’ mechanism, TP53 mutations are effectively prevented from initiating tumorigenesis in the somatic cells of humans, the primate with the highest peak levels of circulating DHEAS. TP53 mutations in human tumors therefore represent fossils of kill switch failure resulting from an age-related decline in circulating DHEAS, a potentially reversible artifact of hominid evolution.

Open access

K E Lines, P Filippakopoulos, M Stevenson, S Müller, H E Lockstone, B Wright, S Knapp, D Buck, C Bountra and R V Thakker

Medical treatments for corticotrophinomas are limited, and we therefore investigated the effects of epigenetic modulators, a new class of anti-tumour drugs, on the murine adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)-secreting corticotrophinoma cell line AtT20. We found that AtT20 cells express members of the bromo and extra-terminal (BET) protein family, which bind acetylated histones, and therefore, studied the anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic effects of two BET inhibitors, referred to as (+)-JQ1 (JQ1) and PFI-1, using CellTiter Blue and Caspase Glo assays, respectively. JQ1 and PFI-1 significantly decreased proliferation by 95% (P < 0.0005) and 43% (P < 0.0005), respectively, but only JQ1 significantly increased apoptosis by >50-fold (P < 0.0005), when compared to untreated control cells. The anti-proliferative effects of JQ1 and PFI-1 remained for 96 h after removal of the respective compound. JQ1, but not PFI-1, affected the cell cycle, as assessed by propidium iodide staining and flow cytometry, and resulted in a higher number of AtT20 cells in the sub G1 phase. RNA-sequence analysis, which was confirmed by qRT-PCR and Western blot analyses, revealed that JQ1 treatment significantly altered expression of genes involved in apoptosis, such as NFκB, and the somatostatin receptor 2 (SSTR2) anti-proliferative signalling pathway, including SSTR2. JQ1 treatment also significantly reduced transcription and protein expression of the ACTH precursor pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) and ACTH secretion by AtT20 cells. Thus, JQ1 treatment has anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic effects on AtT20 cells and reduces ACTH secretion, thereby indicating that BET inhibition may provide a novel approach for treatment of corticotrophinomas.

Open access

Simon Linder, Henk G van der Poel, Andries M Bergman, Wilbert Zwart and Stefan Prekovic

The androgen receptor drives the growth of metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer. This has led to the development of multiple novel drugs targeting this hormone-regulated transcription factor, such as enzalutamide – a potent androgen receptor antagonist. Despite the plethora of possible treatment options, the absolute survival benefit of each treatment separately is limited to a few months. Therefore, current research efforts are directed to determine the optimal sequence of therapies, discover novel drugs effective in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer and define patient subpopulations that ultimately benefit from these treatments. Molecular studies provide evidence on which pathways mediate treatment resistance and may lead to improved treatment for metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer. This review provides, firstly a concise overview of the clinical development, use and effectiveness of enzalutamide in the treatment of advanced prostate cancer, secondly it describes translational research addressing enzalutamide response vs resistance and lastly highlights novel potential treatment strategies in the enzalutamide-resistant setting.

Open access

Paula Sommer, Rachel L Cowen, Andrew Berry, Ann Cookson, Brian A Telfer, Kaye J Williams, Ian J Stratford, Paul Kay, Anne White and David W Ray

Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is an aggressive tumor, associated with ectopic ACTH syndrome. We have shown that SCLC cells are glucocorticoid receptor (GR) deficient, and that restoration of GR expression confers glucocorticoid sensitivity and induces apoptosis in vitro. To determine the effects of GR expression in vivo, we characterized a mouse SCLC xenograft model that secretes ACTH precursor peptides, and so drives high circulating corticosterone concentrations (analogous to the ectopic ACTH syndrome). Infection of SCLC xenografts with GR-expressing adenovirus significantly slowed tumor growth compared with control virus infection. Time to fourfold initial tumor volume increased from a median of 9 days to 16 days (P=0.05; n=7 per group). Post-mortem analysis of GR-expressing tumors revealed a threefold increase in apoptotic (TUNEL positive) cells (P<0.01). Infection with the GR-expressing adenovirus caused a significant reduction in Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL transcripts. Furthermore, in both the GR-expressing adenovirus-infected cells and tumors, a significant number of uninfected cells underwent apoptosis, supporting a bystander cell killing effect. Therefore, GR expression is pro-apoptotic for human SCLCs in vivo, as well as in vitro, suggesting that loss of GR confers a survival advantage to SCLCs.

Open access

Naomi E Allen, Timothy J Key, Laure Dossus, Sabina Rinaldi, Anne Cust, Annekatrin Lukanova, Petra H Peeters, N Charlotte Onland-Moret, Petra H Lahmann, Franco Berrino, Salvatore Panico, Nerea Larrañaga, Guillem Pera, Maria-José Tormo, Maria-José Sánchez, J Ramón Quirós, Eva Ardanaz, Anne Tjønneland, Anja Olsen, Jenny Chang-Claude, Jakob Linseisen, Mandy Schulz, Heiner Boeing, Eva Lundin, Domenico Palli, Kim Overvad, Françoise Clavel-Chapelon, Marie-Christine Boutron-Ruault, Sheila Bingham, Kay-Tee Khaw, H Bas Bueno-de-Mesquita, Antonia Trichopoulou, Dimitiros Trichopoulos, Androniki Naska, Rosario Tumino, Elio Riboli and Rudolf Kaaks

Epidemiological data show that reproductive and hormonal factors are involved in the etiology of endometrial cancer, but there is little data on the association with endogenous sex hormone levels. We analyzed the association between prediagnostic serum concentrations of sex steroids and endometrial cancer risk in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition using a nested case–control design of 247 incident endometrial cancer cases and 481 controls, matched on center, menopausal status, age, variables relating to blood collection, and, for premenopausal women, phase of menstrual cycle. Using conditional regression analysis, endometrial cancer risk among postmenopausal women was positively associated with increasing levels of total testosterone, free testosterone, estrone, total estradiol, and free estradiol. The odds ratios (ORs) for the highest versus lowest tertile were 2.66 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.50–4.72; P=0.002 for a continuous linear trend) for estrone, 2.07 (95% CI 1.20–3.60; P=0.001) for estradiol, and 1.66 (95% CI 0.98–2.82; P=0.001) for free estradiol. For total and free testosterone, ORs for the highest versus lowest tertile were 1.44 (95% CI 0.88–2.36; P=0.05) and 2.05 (95% CI 1.23–3.42; P=0.005) respectively. Androstenedione and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate were not associated with risk. Sex hormone-binding globulin was significantly inversely associated with risk (OR for the highest versus lowest tertile was 0.57, 95% CI 0.34–0.95; P=0.004). In premenopausal women, serum sex hormone concentrations were not clearly associated with endometrial cancer risk, but numbers were too small to draw firm conclusions. In conclusion, relatively high blood concentrations of estrogens and free testosterone are associated with an increased endometrial cancer risk in postmenopausal women.

Open access

Jonathan W Nyce

We recently reported our detection of an anthropoid primate-specific, ‘kill switch’ tumor suppression system that reached its greatest expression in humans, but that is fully functional only during the first twenty-five years of life, corresponding to the primitive human lifespan that has characterized the majority of our species' existence. This tumor suppression system is based upon the kill switch being triggered in cells in which p53 has been inactivated; such kill switch consisting of a rapid, catastrophic increase in ROS caused by the induction of irreversible uncompetitive inhibition of glucose-6- phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD), which requires high concentrations of both inhibitor (DHEA) and G6P substrate. While high concentrations of intracellular DHEA are readily available in primates from the importation and subsequent de-sulfation of circulating DHEAS into p53-affected cells, both an anthropoid primate-specific sequence motif (GAAT) in the glucose-6-phosphatase (G6PC) promoter, and primate-specific inactivation of de novo synthesis of vitamin C by deletion of gulonolactone oxidase (GLO) were required to enable accumulation of G6P to levels sufficient to enable irreversible uncompetitive inhibition of G6PD. Malignant transformation acts as a counterforce opposing vertebrate speciation, particularly increases in body size and lifespan that enable optimized exploitation of particular niches. Unique mechanisms of tumor suppression that evolved to enable niche exploitation distinguish vertebrate species, and prevent one vertebrate species from serving as a valid model system for another. This here-to-fore unrecognized element of speciation undermines decades of cancer research data, using murine species, which presumed universal mechanisms of tumor suppression, independent of species. Despite this setback, the potential for pharmacological reconstitution of the kill switch tumor suppression system that distinguishes our species suggests that ‘normalization’ of human cancer risk, from its current 40% to the 4% of virtually all other large, long-lived species, represents a realistic near-term goal.

Open access

Haojun Luo, Guanglun Yang, Tenghua Yu, Shujuan Luo, Chengyi Wu, Yan Sun, Manran Liu and Gang Tu

Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) are crucial co-mediators of breast cancer progression. Estrogen is the predominant driving force in the cyclic regulation of the mammary extracellular matrix, thus potentially affecting the tumor-associated stroma. Recently, a third estrogen receptor, estrogen (G-protein-coupled) receptor (GPER), has been reported to be expressed in breast CAFs. In this study, GPER was detected by immunohistochemical analysis in stromal fibroblasts of 41.8% (59/141) of the primary breast cancer samples. GPER expression in CAFs isolated from primary breast cancer tissues was confirmed by immunostaining and RT-PCR analyses. Tamoxifen (TAM) in addition to 17β-estradiol (E2) and the GPER agonist G1 activated GPER, resulting in transient increases in cell index, intracellular calcium, and ERK1/2 phosphorylation. Furthermore, TAM, E2, and G1 promoted CAF proliferation and cell-cycle progression, both of which were blocked by GPER interference, the selective GPER antagonist G15, the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitor AG1478, and the ERK1/2 inhibitor U0126. Importantly, TAM as well as G1 increased E2 production in breast CAFs via GPER/EGFR/ERK signaling when the substrate of E2, testosterone, was added to the medium. GPER-induced aromatase upregulation was probably responsible for this phenomenon, as TAM- and G1-induced CYP19A1 gene expression was reduced by GPER knockdown and G15, AG1478, and U0126 administration. Accordingly, GPER-mediated CAF-dependent estrogenic effects on the tumor-associated stroma are conceivable, and CAF is likely to contribute to breast cancer progression, especially TAM resistance, via a positive feedback loop involving GPER/EGFR/ERK signaling and E2 production.

Open access

Petteri Ahtiainen, Victoria Sharp, Susana B Rulli, Adolfo Rivero-Müller, Veronika Mamaeva, Matias Röyttä and Ilpo Huhtaniemi

The etiology of pituitary adenomas remains largely unknown, with the exception of involvement of estrogens in the formation of prolactinomas. We have examined the molecular pathogenesis of prolactin-producing pituitary adenomas in transgenic female mice expressing the human choriongonadotropin (hCG) β-subunit. The LH/CG bioactivity is elevated in the mice, with consequent highly stimulated ovarian progesterone (P4) production, in the face of normal estrogen secretion. Curiously, despite normal estrogen levels, large prolactinomas developed in these mice, and we provide here several lines of evidence that the elevated P4 levels are involved in the growth of these estrogen-dependent tumors. The antiprogestin mifepristone inhibited tumor growth, and combined postgonadectomy estradiol/P4 treatment was more effective than estrogen alone in inducing tumor growth. Evidence for direct growth-promoting effect of P4 was obtained from cultures of primary mouse pituitary cells and rat somatomammotroph GH3 cells. The mouse tumors and cultured cells revealed stimulation of the cyclin D1/cyclin-dependent kinase 4/retinoblastoma protein/transcription factor E2F1 pathway in the growth response to P4. If extrapolated to humans, and given the importance of endogenous P4 and synthetic progestins in female reproductive functions and their pharmacotherapy, it is relevant to revisit the potential role of these hormones in the origin and growth of prolactinomas.

Open access

Deborah J Thompson, Tracy A O'Mara, Dylan M Glubb, Jodie N Painter, Timothy Cheng, Elizabeth Folkerd, Deborah Doody, Joe Dennis, Penelope M Webb, for the Australian National Endometrial Cancer Study Group (ANECS), Maggie Gorman, Lynn Martin, Shirley Hodgson, for the National Study of Endometrial Cancer Genetics Group (NSECG), Kyriaki Michailidou, Jonathan P Tyrer, Mel J Maranian, Per Hall, Kamila Czene, Hatef Darabi, Jingmei Li, Peter A Fasching, Alexander Hein, Matthias W Beckmann, Arif B Ekici, Thilo Dörk, Peter Hillemanns, Matthias Dürst, Ingo Runnebaum, Hui Zhao, Jeroen Depreeuw, Stefanie Schrauwen, Frederic Amant, Ellen L Goode, Brooke L Fridley, Sean C Dowdy, Stacey J Winham, Helga B Salvesen, Jone Trovik, Tormund S Njolstad, Henrica M J Werner, Katie Ashton, Tony Proietto, Geoffrey Otton, Luis Carvajal-Carmona, Emma Tham, Tao Liu, Miriam Mints, for RENDOCAS, Rodney J Scott, Mark McEvoy, John Attia, Elizabeth G Holliday, Grant W Montgomery, Nicholas G Martin, Dale R Nyholt, Anjali K Henders, John L Hopper, Nadia Traficante, for the AOCS Group, Matthias Ruebner, Anthony J Swerdlow, Barbara Burwinkel, Hermann Brenner, Alfons Meindl, Hiltrud Brauch, Annika Lindblom, Diether Lambrechts, Jenny Chang-Claude, Fergus J Couch, Graham G Giles, Vessela N Kristensen, Angela Cox, Manjeet K Bolla, Qin Wang, Stig E Bojesen, Mitul Shah, Robert Luben, Kay-Tee Khaw, Paul D P Pharoah, Alison M Dunning, Ian Tomlinson, Mitch Dowsett, Douglas F Easton and Amanda B Spurdle

Candidate gene studies have reported CYP19A1 variants to be associated with endometrial cancer and with estradiol (E2) concentrations. We analyzed 2937 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 6608 endometrial cancer cases and 37 925 controls and report the first genome wide-significant association between endometrial cancer and a CYP19A1 SNP (rs727479 in intron 2, P=4.8×10−11). SNP rs727479 was also among those most strongly associated with circulating E2 concentrations in 2767 post-menopausal controls (P=7.4×10−8). The observed endometrial cancer odds ratio per rs727479 A-allele (1.15, CI=1.11–1.21) is compatible with that predicted by the observed effect on E2 concentrations (1.09, CI=1.03–1.21), consistent with the hypothesis that endometrial cancer risk is driven by E2. From 28 candidate-causal SNPs, 12 co-located with three putative gene-regulatory elements and their risk alleles associated with higher CYP19A1 expression in bioinformatical analyses. For both phenotypes, the associations with rs727479 were stronger among women with a higher BMI (Pinteraction=0.034 and 0.066 respectively), suggesting a biologically plausible gene-environment interaction.

Open access

Milena Rondón-Lagos, Nelson Rangel, Ludovica Verdun Di Cantogno, Laura Annaratone, Isabella Castellano, Rosalia Russo, Tilde Manetta, Caterina Marchiò and Anna Sapino

Evidence supports a role of 17&-estradiol (E2) in carcinogenesis and the large majority of breast carcinomas are dependent on estrogen. The anti-estrogen tamoxifen (TAM) is widely used for both treatment and prevention of breast cancer; however, it is also carcinogenic in human uterus and rat liver, highlighting the profound complexity of its actions. The nature of E2- or TAM-induced chromosomal damage has been explored using relatively high concentrations of these agents, and only some numerical aberrations and chromosomal breaks have been analyzed. This study aimed to determine the effects of low doses of E2 and TAM (10&8 mol L&1 and 10&6 mol L&1 respectively) on karyotypes of MCF7, T47D, BT474, and SKBR3 breast cancer cells by comparing the results of conventional karyotyping and multi-FISH painting with cell proliferation. Estrogen receptor (ER)-positive (+) cells showed an increase in cell proliferation after E2 treatment (MCF7, T47D, and BT474) and a decrease after TAM treatment (MCF7 and T47D), whereas in ER& cells (SKBR3), no alterations in cell proliferation were observed, except for a small increase at 96 h. Karyotypes of both ER+ and ER& breast cancer cells increased in complexity after treatments with E2 and TAM leading to specific chromosomal abnormalities, some of which were consistent throughout the treatment duration. This genotoxic effect was higher in HER2+ cells. The ER&/HER2+ SKBR3 cells were found to be sensitive to TAM, exhibiting an increase in chromosomal aberrations. These in vitro results provide insights into the potential role of low doses of E2 and TAM in inducing chromosomal rearrangements in breast cancer cells.