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J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 1994 May;49(1):63-8.

The interaction of cytokines in regulating oestradiol 17 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase activity in MCF-7 cells.

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Unit of Metabolic Medicine, St Mary's Hospital Medical School, Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, London, England.


Oestradiol 17 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (E2DH) has a pivotal role in the regulation of oestradiol (E2) concentrations in normal and malignant breast tissues. Previous studies have suggested that a number of cytokines can stimulate E2DH activity to increase the conversion of oestrone (E1) to E2. In this investigation we have examined the effect of TNF alpha, interleukin-1 beta (IL-1 beta) and IL-6 on E2DH activity in MCF-7 breast cancer cells. These cytokines may be produced by breast tumours and their presence in conditioned medium (CM) from tumour-derived fibroblasts was also measured to assess their possible contribution to its E2DH stimulatory activity. Treatment of MCF-7 cells with IL-1 beta and TNF alpha (5 ng/ml) significantly increased (P < 0.001) reductive E2DH (red-E2DH, the conversion of E1 to E2) activity. In contrast, IL-6 at a concentration of 100 ng/ml produced little, if any, stimulation of reductive activity. Combinations of all three cytokines acted synergistically to stimulate red-E2DH activity. No cytokine, either alone or in combination, affected oxidative (E2-->E1) activity. Significant concentrations of IL-6 and IL-1 beta were detected in CM, but the stimulation of red-E2DH activity was much greater than that which could be explained by their levels alone. It is concluded that these cytokines may play an important role in regulating E2DH activity in breast cancer cells and may act synergistically in vivo to enhance the formation of E2 in breast tumours.

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