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Int J Mol Med. 2012 May;29(5):883-90. doi: 10.3892/ijmm.2012.903. Epub 2012 Feb 3.

Treatment with bisphenol A and methoxychlor results in the growth of human breast cancer cells and alteration of the expression of cell cycle-related genes, cyclin D1 and p21, via an estrogen receptor-dependent signaling pathway.

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Laboratory of Veterinary Biochemistry and Immunology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Chungbuk National University, Cheongju, Chungbuk 361-763, Republic of Korea.


Various endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are exogenous compounds found in the environment and have the potential to interfere with the endocrine system and hormonal regulation. Among EDCs, bisphenol A (BPA) and 1,1,1-trichloro-2,2-bis(4-methoxyphenol)-ethane [methoxychlor (MXC)] have estrogenic activity resulting in a variety of dysfunctions in the E2-mediated response by binding to estrogen receptors (ERs), causing human health problems such as abnormal reproduction and carcinogenesis. In this study, we investigated the effects of BPA and MXC on cell proliferation facilitated by ER signaling in human breast cancer cells. MCF-7 cells are known to be ERα-positive and to be a highly E2-responsive cancer cell line; these cells are, therefore, a useful in vitro model for detecting estrogenic activity in response to EDCs. We evaluated cancer cell proliferation following BPA and MXC treatment using an MTT assay. We analyzed alterations in the expression of genes associated with the cell cycle in MCF-7 cells by semi-quantitative reverse-transcription PCR following treatment with BPA or MXC compared to EtOH. To determine whether BPA and MXC stimulate cancer cell growth though ER signaling, we co-treated the cells with agonists (propyl pyrazoletriol, PPT; and diarylpropionitrile, DPN) or an antagonist (ICI 182,780) of ER signaling and reduced ERα gene expression via siRNA in MCF-7 cells before treatment with EDCs. These studies confirmed the carcinogenicity of EDCs in vitro. As a result, BPA and MXC induced the cancer cell proliferation by the upregulation of genes that promote the cell cycle and the downregulation of anti-proliferative genes, especially ones affecting the G1/S transition via ERα signaling. These collective results confirm the carcinogenicity of these EDCs in vitro. Further studies are required to determine whether EDCs promote carcinogenesis in vivo.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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