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J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 1995 Dec;55(3-4):423-37.

Effects of two classes of progestagens, pregnane and 19-nortestosterone derivatives, on cell growth of human breast tumor cells: I. MCF-7 cell lines.

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Department of Endocrinology, N.V. Organon, Oss, The Netherlands.


The effects of two classes of progestagens, e.g. pregnane [Org 2058, medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA), R5020, progesterone (PROG)] and 19-nortestosterone derived progestagens [3-ketodesogestrel (KDG), levonorgestrel (LNG), gestodene (GES), norethisterone (NE), Org 30659] on proliferation of three estradiol (E2)-dependent human breast tumor MCF-7 cell lines of different origin [Van der Burg (B), Litton bionetics (L) and McGrath (M)] were studied. The pregnane derivatives hardly stimulated cell growth at 10(-6) M in MCF-7 B and L cells except for Org 2058 in B cells, whereas in M cells a statistically significant growth induction was observed except for PROG. The 19-nortestosterone derivatives induced cell growth at doses at 10(-7) M or higher in all three cell lines. NE, GES and Org 30659 were more potent stimulators than KDG and LNG at 10(-7) M. E2 already showed maximal stimulation at 10(-10) M. For all three cell lines, the effects and ranking of the individual progestagens were similar. Antiprogestagens, like RU 38486 and Org 31710 could not block these stimulatory effects while antiestrogens like 4-hydroxytamoxifen and ICI 164,384 could. This suggests that cell growth by the above-mentioned progestagens occurs via an interaction with the estrogen receptor. Indeed, displacement studies with cytosol from MCF-7 M cells revealed that at very high concentrations NE, GES and Org 30659 were able to displace 50% of the radiolabelled E2, while KDG and LNG could not. Relative binding affinities (RBAs) were 0.010, 0.025 and 0.015% for NE, GES and Org 30659, respectively. The effect of the two classes of progestagens on cell proliferation was also investigated at several dose levels in combination with E2 (10(-10) M) in the MCF-7 B cell line. This resulted in a statistically significant inhibition of cell growth with R5020, MPA and most of the 19-nortestosterone derivatives at concentrations of 10(-8) M. Org 2058 and NE did not have any influence on E2-induced growth. The inhibitory effects could not be blocked by antiprogestagens. In summary these studies with 3 subclones of MCF-7 cells show that the pregnane derived progestagens stimulate growth only in one subclone, whereas the 19-nortestosterone derived progestagens do so in all three subclones. The progestagens possess estrogenic activity only at high pharmacological doses, being 10,000 times weaker than estradiol. In combination with estrogens most progestagens gave a reduction of E2-stimulated growth in the B subclone.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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