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J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 1997 May;62(1):53-64.

Characterization of the "estrogenicity" of tamoxifen and raloxifene in HepG2 cells: regulation of gene expression from an ERE controlled reporter vector versus regulation of the endogenous SHBG and PS2 genes.

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Karo Bio AB, Novum, Huddinge, Sweden.


The estrogenic character of tamoxifen and raloxifene was studied on three different genes, an ERE-reporter construct and two endogenous genes, sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) and pS2, in two variants of the human liver carcinoma cell line HepG2. On the ERE-reporter construct and the pS2 gene both tamoxifen and raloxifene acted as pure estrogen antagonists, whereas on the SHBG gene they functioned as partial estrogens/antiestrogens at concentrations below 1 microM and as full "agonists" at concentrations higher than 1 microM. The fold stimulatory effect of tamoxifen and raloxifene on SHBG protein expression was similar in the estrogen receptor (ER) expressing HepG2 cells (HepER3) and the parental non-ER expressing HepG2 cells at concentrations above 1 microM. In contrast, the 17beta-estradiol analogue moxestrol stimulated SHBG expression only in the HepER3 cells. Both tamoxifen and raloxifene had an additive effect to estrogen receptor-dependent SHBG gene expression in the HepER3 cells in the presence of saturating concentrations of moxestrol. However, a significant difference was observed in that a much higher concentration of moxestrol was required to see an additive effect of raloxifene compared to tamoxifen. The cytokine IL1-beta completely blocked the tamoxifen-dependent induction of SHBG gene expression in HepER3 cells, but only partly blocked the effect of moxestrol mediated by the ER. In conclusion, our results suggest that the mechanism for the liver-selective "estrogenic" character of tamoxifen and raloxifene is mediated by a non-ER dependent pathway.

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