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Clin Cancer Res. 1999 Feb;5(2):395-403.

Progestins inhibit the growth of MDA-MB-231 cells transfected with progesterone receptor complementary DNA.

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Department of Clinical Research, Ministry of Health, Singapore General Hospital, Republic of Singapore.


Because progesterone exerts its effects mainly via estrogen-dependent progesterone receptor (PgR), the expression of progesterone's effects may be overshadowed by the priming effect of estrogen. PgR expression vectors were transfected into estrogen receptor (ER)-alpha and PgR-negative breast cancer cells MDA-MB-231; thus the functions of progesterone could be studied independent of estrogens and ERs. Eight stable transfectant clones expressing both PgR isoform A and B were studied for their growth response to progesterone and its analogues. Although progesterone had no effect on growth in the control transfectant, the hormone markedly inhibited DNA synthesis and cell growth in all of the PgR-transfectants dose-dependently from 10(-12)-10(-6) M. This growth inhibition was associated with an arrest of cells in the G0/G1 phase of the cell cycle. Progestins medroxyprogesterone acetate, Org2058, and R5020 also strongly inhibited DNA synthesis, and their doses required for maximal inhibition of 60-70% were 10(-17) M, 10(-13) M, and 10(-7) M, respectively. Antiprogestin ZK98299 alone had no effect, but the compound was capable of counteracting the inhibitory effect of progesterone. In contrast, RU486 inhibited DNA synthesis, and it showed no further effects when it was used concurrently with progesterone. These results indicate that progestins are per se antiproliferative via a PgR-mediated mechanism in breast cancer cells. More importantly, we have shown that progestins may exert effective inhibitory control over the cell growth if the PgR expression is reactivated in ER- and PgR-negative breast cancer cells.

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