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J Steroid Biochem. 1986 Jul;25(1):157-63.

Aromatase activity in human skin fibroblasts: characterization by an enzymatic method.


Human skin fibroblasts were incubated for 24 h with 10(-6) M androstenedione and the estrone + estradiol released in the culture medium were measured by an enzymatic assay. Aromatase activity was expressed as pmol (estrone + estradiol) formed in the medium per mg cell protein per day. Using this method we were able to investigate the kinetic properties of aromatase in different cell strains and its stimulation by dexamethasone. Values of 92 nM and 9.1 pmol/mg protein/day were obtained respectively for Km and Vmax in cultured fibroblasts derived from genital skin of normal prepubertal subjects. In patients with complete androgen insensitivity syndrome CAIS, the Km was 156 nM and the Vmax 42 pmol/mg protein/day. Aromatase activity varied from 7.9 +/- 1.2 pmol/mg protein/day (mean +/- SD; n = 19) in normal prepubertal boys to 24.5 +/- 4.7 pmol/mg protein/day (mean +/- SD; n = 11) in those from normal postpubertal boys. The values were even higher in fibroblasts cultured from genital skin of prepubertal patients with CAIS. Cell concentrations did not modify the pattern of estrogen formation and aromatase activity did not vary with serial subcultures. The stimulatory effect of dexamethasone on aromatase activity in cultured fibroblasts was measured after preincubation of the cells for 48 h with dexamethasone, by determining estrogen formation after 24 h incubation of the cells with androstenedione 10(-6) M using this enzymatic method. This data suggest that aromatase activity measured in cultured fibroblasts could be a useful tool for studying extraglandular estrogen formation in physiological and pathological conditions.

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