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Free access

Kellie L Jones and Aman U Buzdar

Breast cancer is the most common carcinoma diagnosed in women today excluding non-melanoma skin cancers. It has been well documented that estrogen plays a critical role in its development and is a major target for treatment. For many years, tamoxifen has been the gold standard for adjuvant hormonal therapy in breast cancer patients. With newer products targeting different mechanisms to suppress estrogen production, patients now have many decisions regarding their care. Agents such as luteinizing hormone releasing hormone (LHRH) agonists can suppress ovarian function in premenopausal patients and have been shown to be as effective and even better than chemotherapy (CMF — cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, fluorouracil-containing regimens) in certain patient populations. Tamoxifen continues to be an option as well as toremifene, a similar selective estrogen receptor modulator. With the advent of newer third generation aromatase inhibitors (anastrozole, letrozole and exemestane) toxicities have been documented to be less and in some cases they are more efficacious than the standard, tamoxifen. This article reviews the current data regarding ovarian suppression, ovarian suppression plus tamoxifen, tamoxifen, toremifene, anastrozole, letrozole, and exemestane in the treatment of adjuvant hormonal-sensitive breast cancer.

Free access

Sisi He, Liqian Ma, Amy E Baek, Anna Vardanyan, Varsha Vembar, Joy J Chen, Adam T Nelson, Joanna E Burdette, and Erik R Nelson

There is an urgent need for more effective strategies to treat ovarian cancer. Elevated cholesterol levels are associated with a decreased progression-free survival time (PFS) while statins are protective. 27-Hydroxycholesterol (27HC), a primary metabolite of cholesterol, has been shown to modulate the activities of the estrogen receptors (ERs) and liver x receptors (LXRs) providing a potential mechanistic link between cholesterol and ovarian cancer progression. We found that high expression of CYP27A1, the enzyme responsible for the synthesis of 27HC, was associated with decreased PFS, while high expression of CYP7B1, responsible for 27HC catabolism, was associated with increased PFS. However, 27HC decreased the cellular proliferation of various ovarian cancer cell lines in an LXR-dependent manner. Intriguingly, ID8 grafts were unable to effectively establish in CYP27A1−/− mice, indicating involvement of the host environment. Tumors from mice treated with 27HC had altered myeloid cell composition, and cells from the marrow stem cell lineage were found to be responsible for the effects in CYP27A1−/− mice. While inhibition of CYP27A1 or immune checkpoint did not significantly alter tumor size, their combination did, thereby highlighting this axis as a therapeutic target.

Free access

David Fu, Xiangmin Lv, Guohua Hua, Chunbo He, Jixin Dong, Subodh M Lele, David Wan-Cheng Li, Qiongli Zhai, John S Davis, and Cheng Wang

The Hippo signaling pathway has been implicated as a conserved regulator of organ size in both Drosophila and mammals. Yes-associated protein (YAP), the central component of the Hippo signaling cascade, functions as an oncogene in several malignancies. Ovarian granulosa cell tumors (GCT) are characterized by enlargement of the ovary, excess production of estrogen, a high frequency of recurrence, and the potential for malignancy and metastasis. Whether the Hippo pathway plays a role in the pathogenesis of GCT is unknown. This study was conducted to examine the expression of YAP in human adult GCTs and to determine the role of YAP in the proliferation and steroidogenesis of GCT cells. Compared with age-matched normal human ovaries, GCT tissues exhibited higher levels of YAP expression. YAP protein was predominantly expressed in the nucleus of tumor cells, whereas the non-tumor ovarian stromal cells expressed very low levels of YAP. YAP was also expressed in cultured primary human granulosa cells and in KGN and COV434 GCT cell lines. siRNA-mediated knockdown of YAP in KGN cells resulted in a significant reduction in cell proliferation (P<0.001). Conversely, overexpression of wild type YAP or a constitutively active YAP (YAP1) mutant resulted in a significant increase in KGN cell proliferation and migration. Moreover, YAP knockdown reduced FSH-induced aromatase (CYP19A1) protein expression and estrogen production in KGN cells. These results demonstrate that YAP plays an important role in the regulation of GCT cell proliferation, migration, and steroidogenesis. Targeting the Hippo/YAP pathway may provide a novel therapeutic approach for GCT.

Open access

Evangelia-Ourania Fourkala, Alexey Zaikin, Matthew Burnell, Aleksandra Gentry-Maharaj, Jeremy Ford, Richard Gunu, Christina Soromani, Guido Hasenbrink, Ian Jacobs, Anne Dawnay, Martin Widschwendter, Hella Lichtenberg-Fraté, and Usha Menon

Postmenopausal women with elevated serum sex steroids have an increased risk of breast cancer. Most of this risk is believed to be exerted through binding of the sex steroids to their receptors. For the first time, we investigate the association of estrogen receptor (ER) and androgen receptor (AR) serum bioactivity (SB) in addition to hormone levels in samples from women with breast cancer collected before diagnosis. Two hundred postmenopausal women participating in the UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening who developed ER-positive breast cancer 0.6–5 years after sample donation were identified and matched to 400 controls. ER and AR bioassays were used to measure ERα, ERβ, and AR SB. Androgen and estrogen levels were measured with immunoassays. Subjects were classified according to quintiles of the respective marker among controls and the associations between SB and hormones with breast cancer risk were determined by logistic regression analysis. ERα and ERβ SB were significantly higher before diagnosis compared with controls, while estrogens showed no difference. Women had a twofold increased breast cancer risk if ERα SB (odds ratio (OR), 2.114; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.050–4.425; P=0.040) was in the top quintile >2 years before diagnosis or estrone (OR, 2.205; 95% CI, 1.104–4.586; P=0.029) was in the top quintile <2 years before diagnosis. AR showed no significant association with breast cancer while androstenedione (OR, 3.187; 95% CI, 1.738–6.044; P=0.0003) and testosterone (OR, 2.145; 95% CI, 1.256–3.712; P=0.006) were significantly higher compared with controls and showed a strong association with an almost threefold increased breast cancer risk independent of time to diagnosis. This study provides further evidence on the association of androgens and estrogens with breast cancer. In addition, it reports that high ER but not AR SB is associated with increased breast risk >2 years before diagnosis.

Free access

A C-M Chang, D A Jellinek, and R R Reddel

Stanniocalcin (STC) is a glycoprotein hormone that is secreted by the corpuscle of Stannius, an endocrine gland of bony fish, and is involved in calcium and phosphate homeostasis. The related mammalian proteins, STC1 and STC2, are expressed in a wide variety of tissues. The ovaries have the highest level of STC1, and this increases during pregnancy and lactation. STC1 is present in breast ductal epithelium, and its expression is induced by BRCA1, a tumor suppressor gene that has an important role in breast and ovarian cancer. The expression of STC2 is induced by estrogen, and there is a positive correlation between the level of expression of estrogen receptor and expression of both STC1 and STC2 in breast cancer. This article reviews the data currently available regarding the mammalian STCs, and discusses the roles they may play in normal physiology and in breast and other cancers.

Free access

Srilatha Swami, Aruna V Krishnan, Jasmaine Williams, Abhishek Aggarwal, Megan A Albertelli, Ronald L Horst, Brian J Feldman, and David Feldman


Obesity is an established risk factor for postmenopausal breast cancer (BCa), insulin resistance, and vitamin D deficiency, and all contribute to increased synthesis of mammary estrogens, the drivers of estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) BCa growth. As both dietary vitamin D and calcitriol treatments inhibit breast estrogen synthesis and signaling, we hypothesized that vitamin D would be especially beneficial in mitigating the adverse effects of obesity on ER+BCa. To assess whether obesity exerted adverse effects on BCa growth and whether vitamin D compounds could reduce these unfavorable effects, we employed a diet-induced obesity (DIO) model in ovariectomized C57BL/6 mice. Breast tumor cells originally from syngeneic Mmtv-Wnt1 transgenic mice were then implanted into the mammary fat pads of lean and obese mice. DIO accelerated the initiation and progression of the mammary tumors. Treatments with either calcitriol or dietary vitamin D reduced the adverse effects of obesity causing a delay in tumor appearance and inhibiting continued tumor growth. Beneficial actions of treatments with vitamin D or calcitriol on BCa and surrounding adipose tissue included repressed Esr1, aromatase, and Cox2 expression; decreased tumor-derived estrogen and PGE2; reduced expression of leptin receptors; and increased adiponectin receptors. We demonstrate that vitamin D treatments decreased insulin resistance, reduced leptin, and increased adiponectin signaling and also regulated the LKB1/AMPK pathway contributing to an overall decrease in local estrogen synthesis in the obese mice. We conclude that calcitriol and dietary vitamin D, acting by multiple interrelated pathways, mitigate obesity-enhanced BCa growth in a postmenopausal setting.

Free access

Zane Hammoud, Bailin Tan, Sunil Badve, and Robert M Bigsby

Numerous epidemiological observations point to sex differences in lung cancer etiology and progression. The present study was aimed at understanding the bases of these sex differences. To test the effect of estradiol on tumor progression, we used a mouse model based on conditional Kras expression and concurrent deletion of Tp53 following inhalation of an adenoviral vector expressing Cre recombinase (AdeCre). Ovariectomized females and males were treated with estradiol via a continuous-release capsule. Tumor multiplicity, tumor volume, and histological grade were determined at 10 weeks after AdeCre administration. Cell proliferation was monitored by Ki67 immunohistochemistry at 4 and 10 weeks after AdeCre administration. At 10 weeks, female mice had more than twice the number of tumors evident on the surface of the lungs than male mice; ovariectomy eliminated this sex difference. The estrogen treatment significantly increased tumor number and volume in ovariectomized females and in males. Histological character of the tumors ranged from adenoma to adenocarcinoma. Ovary-intact females exhibited higher grade tumors than ovariectomized females or males. Progression to higher histological grade was stimulated by estrogen in male mice but not in ovariectomized females. At 10 weeks after AdeCre administration, tumor cell Ki67-labeling varied widely, precluding assessment of an estrogen effect; however, at 4 weeks, Ki67 labeling of lung parenchymal cells was increased 3.5-fold by estrogen. In conclusion, estrogen acts as a promoter for lung adenocarcinoma in a genetically defined lung cancer model; estrogen-induced cell proliferation in the oncogene-initiated cells is likely to play a role in this tumor promoter activity.

Open access

Eva Hadadi and Hervé Acloque

The circadian rhythm is a major environmental regulator of plants and animal physiology. The alternation of days and nights is translated at the cell and tissue level thanks to a molecular machinery, called the circadian clock. This clock controls in particular numerous endocrine functions and its imbalances can have serious consequences on homeostasis. This is particularly true for the development of endocrine-related cancers, like breast, ovarian and prostate cancer. Circadian rhythm disorder (CRD) not only affects key hormone levels (including estrogen, melatonin, insulin, glucagon, cortisol) but also favors a pro-inflammatory and immunosuppressive phenotype in the tumour microenvironment. This particular aspect is conducive to epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) of solid epithelial tumours and cancer cell dissemination. It also favors resistance to chemo- and immunotherapy. Here, we discuss the current knowledge on this crosstalk between CRD, EMT and the immune microenvironment in endocrine-related cancers and its consequences for the development of efficient therapies.

Free access

A Bardin, N Boulle, G Lazennec, F Vignon, and P Pujol

The characterization of estrogen receptor beta (ERβ) brought new insight into the mechanisms underlying estrogen signaling. Estrogen induction of cell proliferation is a crucial step in carcinogenesis of gynecologic target tissues, and the mitogenic effects of estrogen in these tissues (such as breast, endometrium and ovary) are well documented both in vitro and in vivo. There is also an emerging body of evidence that colon and prostate cancer growth is influenced by estrogens. In all of these tissues, most studies have shown decreased ERβ expression in cancer as compared with benign tumors or normal tissues, whereas ERα expression persists. The loss of ERβ expression in cancer cells could reflect tumor cell dedifferentiation but may also represent a critical stage in estrogen-dependent tumor progression. Modulation of the expression of ERα target genes by ERβ or ERβ-specific gene induction could explain that ERβ has a differential effect on proliferation as compared with ERα. ERβ may exert a protective effect and thus constitute a new target for hormone therapy, such as ligand specific activation. The potential distinct roles of ERα and ERβ expression in carcinogenesis, as suggested by experimental and clinical data, are discussed in this review.

Free access

Marc T Goodman, Galina Lurie, Pamela J Thompson, Katharine E McDuffie, and Michael E Carney

Although the role of estrogen in the etiology of ovarian cancer is uncertain, there is increasing evidence that hormone replacement therapy is a risk factor for ovarian malignancy. The production of estrogen involves the conversion of androgens via P450 aromatase, encoded by the CYP19A1 gene. Genetic variation in two CYP19A1 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), rs749292 and rs727479, has been found to produce 10–20% increases in estrogen levels among postmenopausal women. We tested the hypothesis that these SNPs were associated with the risk of ovarian cancer in a population-based case–control study in Hawaii, including 367 histologically confirmed epithelial ovarian cancer cases and 602 age- and ethnicity-matched controls. The A allele of rs749292 was positively associated with ovarian cancer risk in a codominant model for all races combined (AG versus AA genotype: odds ratio (OR), 1.48 and 95% confidence interval (CI, 1.07–2.04); GG versus AA: OR, 1.87 (CI, 1.24–2.82); P trend=0.002). Similar significant associations of the rs749292 A allele on the risk of ovarian cancer were found among Caucasian and Japanese women. No relation of the rs727479 SNP to ovarian cancer risk was observed overall, although Caucasian women carrying the variant A allele compared with women with an CC genotype had an OR of 2.91 (CI, 1.15–7.37). These data suggest CYP19A1 variants may influence susceptibility to ovarian cancer.