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J Steroid Biochem. 1990 Mar;35(3-4):355-66.

Postmenopausal estrogen synthesis and metabolism: alterations caused by aromatase inhibitors used for the treatment of breast cancer.

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Department of Oncology, N-5021 Haukeland sykehus, Bergen, Norway.


Inhibition of postmenopausal estrogen production by aromatase inhibitors is an established drug treatment modality for postmenopausal breast cancer. In this article postmenopausal estrogen disposition and the alterations caused by treatment with aromatase inhibitors are reviewed. Recent investigations have challenged the hypothesis that aromatization of androstenedione into estrone is the sole production pathway for estrogens in postmenopausal women. The finding that estrogens persist in the plasma of patients receiving aminoglutethimide treatment despite a near total inhibition of the aromatase enzyme suggests that alternative pathways for estrogen synthesis exist. While nonspecific actions of aromatase inhibitors may be disadvantageous, certain effects may also be beneficial. Recent findings that aminoglutethimide may induce estrone sulfate metabolism questions whether this "prototype" aromatase inhibitor might have a dual mechanism of action. The importance of investigating the possible influence of different aromatase inhibitors on all components of estrogen disposition is considered.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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