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J Pathol. 2018 Sep;246(1):41-53. doi: 10.1002/path.5105. Epub 2018 Jul 4.

BRCA1-associated mammary tumorigenesis is dependent on estrogen rather than progesterone signaling.

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Division of Molecular Pathology, Oncode Institute, The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Experimental Animal Pathology, The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Division of Oncogenomics, Oncode Institute, The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Synthon Biopharmaceuticals B.V, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


Hereditary breast cancers in BRCA1 mutation carriers are mostly estrogen receptor α (ERα)-negative and progesterone receptor (PR)-negative; however, hormone depletion via bilateral oophorectomy does result in a marked reduction in breast cancer risk, suggesting that BRCA1-associated breast tumorigenesis is dependent on hormone signaling. We used geneticaly engineered mouse models to determine the individual influences of ERα and PR signaling on the development of BRCA1-deficient breast cancer. In line with the human data, BRCA1-deficient mouse mammary tumors are ERα-negative, and bilateral ovariectomy leads to abrogation of mammary tumor development. Hormonal replacement experiments in ovariectomized mice showed that BRCA1-deficient mammary tumor formation is promoted by estrogen but not by progesterone. In line with these data, mammary tumorigenesis was significantly delayed by the selective ERα downregulator fulvestrant, but not by the selective PR antagonist Org33628. Together, our results illustrate that BRCA1-associated tumorigenesis is dependent on estrogen signaling rather than on progesterone signaling, and call into question the utility of PR antagonists as a tumor prevention strategy for BRCA1 mutation carriers. Copyright © 2018 Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


BRCA1; breast cancer; hormone receptor antagonists; hormone signaling; ovariectomy


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