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J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 1998 Apr;65(1-6):225-35.

Progestins and breast cancer.

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Hormones and Cancer Research Unit, Institut de Puériculture, Paris, France.


In the last years there has been an extraordinary development in the synthesis of new progestins. These compounds are classified, in agreement with their structure, in various groups which include progesterone, retroprogesterones, 17alpha-hydroxyprogesterones, 19-norprogesterones, 17alpha-hydroxyprogesterone derivatives, androstane and estrane derivatives. The action of progestins is a function of many factors: its structure, affinity to the progesterone receptor or to other steroid receptors, the target tissue considered, the biological response, the experimental conditions, dose, and metabolic transformation. The information on the action of progestins in breast cancer patients is very limited. Positive response with the progestins: medroxyprogesterone acetate and megestrol acetate was obtained in post-menopausal patients with advanced breast cancer. However, extensive information on the effect of progestins was obtained in in vitro studies using hormone-dependent and hormone-independent human mammary cancer cell lines. It was demonstrated that in the hormone-dependent breast cancer cells, various progestins (nomegestrol acetate, tibolone, medrogestone, promegestone) are potent sulfatase inhibitory agents. The progestins can also involve the inhibition of mRNA of this enzyme. In another series of studies it was also demonstrated that various progestins are very active in inhibiting the 17beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase for the conversion of estrone to estradiol. More recently it was observed that the progestins promegestone or medrogestone stimulate the sulfotransferase for the formation of estrogen sulfates. Consequently, the blockage in the formation of estradiol via sulfatase, or the stimulatory effect on sulfotransferase activity, by progestins can open interesting and new possibilities in clinical applications in breast cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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