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Cancer Detect Prev. 1992;16(1):31-8.

Androgens and breast cancer.

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MRC Group in Molecular Endocrinology, CHUL Research Center, Quebec, Canada.


We have recently demonstrated that physiological levels of androgens exert direct and potent inhibitory effects on the growth of human breast cancer ZR-75-1 cells in vivo in nude mice as well as in vitro under both basal and estrogen-stimulated conditions. The inhibitory effect of androgens has also been confirmed on the growth of dimethylbenz(a)anthracene (DMBA)-induced mammary carcinoma in the rat. Such observations are in close agreement with the clinical data showing that androgens and the androgenic compound medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA) have beneficial effects in breast cancer in women comparable to other endocrine therapies, including tamoxifen. Although the inhibitory action of androgens on cell proliferation in estrogen-induced ZR-75-1 cells results, in part, from their suppressive effect on expression of the estrogen receptor, the androgens also exert a direct inhibitory effect independent of estrogens. Androgens cause a global slowing effect on the duration of the cell cycle. These observations support clinical data showing that androgenic compounds induce an objective remission after failure of antiestrogen therapy as well as those indicating that the antiproliferative action of androgens is additive to that of antiestrogens. We have also recently demonstrated in ZR-75-1 human breast cancer cells the antagonism between androgens and estrogens on the expression of GCDFP-15 and GCDFP-24 which are two major proteins secreted in human gross cystic disease fluid. The effects of androgens and estrogens as well as those of progestins and glucocorticoids on GCDFP-15 and GCDFP-24 mRNA levels and secretion are opposite to those induced by the same steroids on cell growth in ZR-75-1 cells.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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