Combined estrogenic and anti-estrogenic properties of estetrol on breast cancer may provide a safe therapeutic window for the treatment of menopausal symptoms.
ABSTRACT: Increased risk of breast cancer is a critical side effect associated with the use of a menopausal hormone therapy (MHT). Estetrol (E4) is a natural estrogen produced by the human fetal liver and is a promising compound for clinical use in MHT. However, its impact on breast cancer is controversial and poorly defined. In this preclinical study, we show that E4 acts as a weak estrogen by stimulating the growth of hormone-dependent breast cancer only at concentrations exceeding menopausal therapeutic needs. E4 presents also an antitumor activity by decreasing the strong proliferative effect of estradiol (E2). While estrogen receptor alpha (ER?) is the predominant receptor mediating its effects, the dual weak-estrogenic/anti-estrogenic feature of E4 results from differential signaling pathways activation. Both nuclear and rapid extra-nuclear signaling pathway are necessary for a complete estrogenic effect of E4. However, the antitumor action of E4 is not due to a capacity to antagonize E2-induced nuclear activity. Altogether, our results highlight that E4 has a limited impact on breast cancer and may offer a safe therapeutic window for the treatment of menopausal symptoms.
Project description:Purpose:Postmenopausal women with estrogen receptor-positive breast cancers often respond initially to tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitor therapy. Resistance to these treatments usually develops within 12 to 18?months. Clinical studies have demonstrated that high-dose estrogen can induce regression of these endocrine-resistant tumors. However, side-effects of high-dose estradiol (E2) or diethylstilbestrol (DES) limit their usage. Estetrol (E4) is the most abundant estrogen during pregnancy and has a long half-life and a low potential for side-effects. Estetrol might then provide benefits similar to DES on tumor regression but with lesser toxicity. Methods:In this study, we systematically evaluated the effects of E4 on cell proliferation and apoptosis in wild-type MCF-7 and long-term estrogen-deprived (LTED) MCF-7 cells and compared its effects with E2 and estriol (E3). Results:Estetrol induced apoptosis in LTED cells but stimulated growth of MCF-7 cells at concentrations from 10-11 to 10-8 M. These effects of E4 are similar to those of E2 but require much higher doses. Differing from E2, E4 at 10-12 M induced apoptosis in MCF-7 cells and another pregnancy estrogen, E3, acted similarly. No antagonistic effect of E4 or E3 against E2 occurred when they were combined. Conclusions:The pro-apoptotic effects of E4 and E3 on LTED cells and at low doses on MCF-7 cells indicate that these steroids could be used as therapeutic agents for endocrine-resistant or sensitive breast cancer.
Project description:Estetrol (E4) is a natural estrogen with a long half-life produced only by the human fetal liver during pregnancy. The crystal structures of the estrogen receptor α (ERα) ligand-binding domain bound to 17β-estradiol (E2) and E4 are very similar, as well as their capacity to activate the two activation functions AF-1 and AF-2 and to recruit the coactivator SRC3. In vivo administration of high doses of E4 stimulated uterine gene expression, epithelial proliferation, and prevented atheroma, three recognized nuclear ERα actions. However, E4 failed to promote endothelial NO synthase activation and acceleration of endothelial healing, two processes clearly dependent on membrane-initiated steroid signaling (MISS). Furthermore, E4 antagonized E2 MISS-dependent effects in endothelium but also in MCF-7 breast cancer cell line. This profile of ERα activation by E4, uncoupling nuclear and membrane activation, characterizes E4 as a selective ER modulator which could have medical applications that should now be considered further.
Project description:The Women's Health Initiative studies reported that the menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) regimen containing conjugated equine estrogen (CEE) and medroxyprogesterone acetate increased, whereas CEE alone reduced breast cancer incidence. These observations suggest the possibility that CEE might exert unique actions on breast and also suggest the need to eliminate the progestogen from MHT regimens. A MHT regimen called a tissue selective estrogen complex (TSEC), containing CEE plus bazedoxifene (BZA), to avoid the need for a progestogen, was developed and FDA approved. Our study addressed two questions regarding this TSEC: (i) whether CEE exert effects on breast cancer which differ from those of estradiol (E2 ) and (ii) whether BZA antagonize the effects of E2 and CEE on breast cancer? Two rodent models (NMU and ACI) were used to compare the effect of CEE with E2 on mammary tumor formation, proliferation and apoptosis. In both the NMU and ACI models, E2 significantly increased tumor incidence and multiplicity whereas in striking contrast CEE did not, even though the estrogenic effects of CEE and E2 on uterine weight were identical. Mechanistically E2 blocked whereas CEE stimulated apoptosis (cleaved caspase-3) in ACI animals and only E2 stimulated proliferation (Ki67). BZA exerted highly potent anti-estrogenic effects on tumors by completely blocking palpable tumor formation. These data suggest that the CEE/BZA TSEC may be a safer, breast-antagonistic, MHT agent for women and might have potential to prevent breast cancer while relieving menopausal symptoms.
Project description:Use of estrogen or estrogen/progestin combination was an approved regimen for menopausal hormonal therapy (MHT). However, more recent patient-centered studies revealed an increase in the incidence of breast cancer in women receiving menopausal hormone therapy with estrogen plus progestin rather than estrogen alone. Tissue selective estrogen complex (TSEC) has been proposed to eliminate the progesterone component of MHT with supporting evidences. Based on our previous studies it is evident that SPRMs have a safer profile on endometrium in preventing unopposed estrogenicity. We hypothesized that a combination of estradiol (E2) with selective progesterone receptor modulator (SPRM) to exert a safer profile on endometrium will also reduce mammary gland proliferation and could be used to prevent breast cancer when used in MHT. In order to test our hypothesis, we compared the estradiol alone or in combination with our novel SPRMs, EC312 and EC313. The compounds were effectively controlled E2 mediated cell proliferation and induced apoptosis in T47D breast cancer cells. The observed effects were found comparable that of BZD in vitro. The effects of SPRMs were confirmed by receptor binding studies as well as gene and protein expression studies. Proliferation markers were found downregulated with EC312/313 treatment in vitro and reduced E2 induced mammary gland proliferation, evidenced as reduced ductal branching and terminal end bud growth in vivo. These data supporting our hypothesis that E2+EC312/EC313 blocked the estrogen action may provide basic rationale to further test the clinical efficacy of SPRMs to prevent breast cancer incidence in postmenopausal women undergoing MHT.
Project description:Long-term estrogen deprivation (LTED) with tamoxifen (TAM) or aromatase inhibitors leads to endocrine-resistance, whereby physiologic levels of estrogen kill breast cancer (BC). Estrogen therapy is effective in treating patients with advanced BC after resistance to TAM and aromatase inhibitors develops. This therapeutic effect is attributed to estrogen-induced apoptosis via the estrogen receptor (ER). Estrogen therapy can have unpleasant gynecologic and nongynecologic adverse events. Here, we study estetrol (E<sub>4</sub>) and a model Selective Human ER Partial Agonist (ShERPA) BMI-135. Estetrol and ShERPA TTC-352 are being evaluated in clinical trials. These agents are proposed as safer estrogenic candidates compared with 17<i>?</i>-estradiol (E<sub>2</sub>) for the treatment of endocrine-resistant BC. Cell viability assays, real-time polymerase chain reaction, luciferase reporter assays, chromatin immunoprecipitation, docking and molecular dynamics simulations, human unfolded protein response (UPR) RT<sup>2</sup> PCR profiler arrays, live cell microscopic imaging and analysis, and annexin V staining assays were conducted. Our work was done in eight biologically different human BC cell lines and one human endometrial cancer cell line, and results were compared with full agonists estrone, E<sub>2</sub>, and estriol, a benchmark partial agonist triphenylethylene bisphenol (BPTPE), and antagonists 4-hydroxytamoxifen and endoxifen. Our study shows the pharmacology of E<sub>4</sub> and BMI-135 as less-potent full-estrogen agonists as well as their molecular mechanisms of tumor regression in LTED BC through triggering a rapid UPR and apoptosis. Our work concludes that the use of a full agonist to treat BC is potentially superior to a partial agonist given BPTPE's delayed induction of UPR and apoptosis, with a higher probability of tumor clonal evolution and resistance. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: Given the unpleasant gynecologic and nongynecologic adverse effects of estrogen treatment, the development of safer estrogens for endocrine-resistant breast cancer (BC) treatment and hormone replacement therapy remains a priority. The naturally occurring estrogen estetrol and Selective Human Estrogen-Receptor Partial Agonists are being evaluated in endocrine-resistant BC clinical trials. This work provides a comprehensive evaluation of their pharmacology in numerous endocrine-resistant BC models and an endometrial cancer model and their molecular mechanisms of tumor regression through the unfolded protein response and apoptosis.
Project description:Estetrol (E4), estradiol (E2) and progesterone (P4) have important antioxidative and neuroprotective effects in neuronal system. We aimed to study the consequence of combined steroid therapy in neonatal hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). In vitro the effect of E4 combined with other steroids on oxidative stress and the cell viability in primary hippocampal cultures was evaluated by lactate dehydrogenase and cell survival assays. In vivo neuroprotective and therapeutic efficacy of E4 combined with other steroids was studied in HIE model of immature rats. The rat pups rectal temperature, body and brain weights were evaluated.The hippocampus and the cortex were investigated by histo/immunohistochemistry: intact cell number counting, expressions of markers for early gray matter lose, neuro- and angiogenesis were studied. Glial fibrillary acidic protein was evaluated by ELISA in blood samples. In vitro E4 and combinations of high doses of E4 with P4 and/or E2 significantly diminished the LDH activity and upregulated the cell survival.In vivopretreatment or treatment by different combinations of E4 with other steroids had unalike effects on body and brain weight, neuro- and angiogenesis, and GFAP expression in blood. The combined use of E4 with other steroids has no benefit over the single use of E4.
Project description:Epidemiological studies have shown that cardiovascular disease (CVD) is less common in pre-menopausal women (Pre-MW) compared to men of the same age or post-menopausal women (Post-MW), suggesting cardiovascular benefits of estrogen. Estrogen receptors (ERs) have been identified in the vasculature, and experimental studies have demonstrated vasodilator effects of estrogen/ER on the endothelium, vascular smooth muscle (VSM) and extracellular matrix. Several natural and synthetic estrogenic preparations have been developed for relief of menopausal vasomotor symptoms. However, whether menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) is beneficial in postmenopausal CVD remains controversial. Despite reports of vascular benefits of MHT from observational and experimental studies, randomized clinical trials (RCTs), such as the Heart and Estrogen/progestin Replacement Study (HERS) and the Women's Health Initiative (WHI), have suggested that, contrary to expectations, MHT may increase the risk of CVD. These discrepancies could be due to agerelated changes in sex hormone synthesis and metabolism, which would influence the effective dose of MHT and the sex hormone environment in Post-MW. Age-related changes in the vascular ER subtype, structure, expression, distribution, and post-ER signaling pathways in the endothelium and VSM, along with factors related to the design of RCTs, preexisting CVD condition, and structural changes in the blood vessels architecture have also been suggested as possible causes of MHT failure in CVD. Careful examination of these factors should help in identifying the causes of the changes in the vascular effects of estrogen with age. The sex hormone metabolic pathways, the active versus inactive estrogen metabolites, and their effects on vascular function, the mitochondria, the inflammatory process and angiogenesis should be further examined. Also, the genomic and non-genomic effects of estrogenic compounds should be viewed as integrated rather than discrete responses. The complex interactions between these factors highlight the importance of careful design of MHT RCTs, and the need of a more customized approach for each individual patient in order to enhance the vascular benefits of MHT in postmenopausal CVD.
Project description:The perimenopausal increase in circulating dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) levels during the menopausal transition (MT) is accompanied by other adrenal steroids that have the potential to alter estrogen/androgen balance and explain the wide interwoman range of estrogen-related symptoms experienced during the MT.Annual serum samples from the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation, which had previously been analyzed for immunoreactive estradiol (E2), testosterone, DHEAS, and sex hormone-binding globulin, were selected based on DHEAS concentration and analyzed for immunoreactive and bioactive estrogens and androgens, including immunoreactive androstenedione, dehydroepiandrosterone, and 5-androstene-3?,17?-diol (androstenediol [Adiol]).A two-fold increase in circulating androstenedione and testosterone was found to rise in parallel with the rise in circulating DHEAS, whereas dehydroepiandrosterone and Adiol concentrations rose seven- to eight-fold. Circulating Adiol, which has both androgenic and estrogenic biological activity, was significantly associated (P < 0.02) with circulating estrogen bioactivity only when E2 concentrations were low and Adiol levels were high.The wide range of circulating levels of Adiol and its contribution to total circulating estrogenicity during the MT is consistent with the observed interwoman difference in symptoms at this time. Therefore, we conclude that Adiol contributes to circulating estrogenicity when E2 production falls at menopause and may contribute significantly to the endocrine changes experienced by midlife women.
Project description:Estetrol (E4) is a natural estrogen produced by the human fetal liver. In combination with drospirenone (DRSP) or levonorgestrel (LNG), E4 blocks ovulation and has less effect on haemostatic biomarkers in comparison with ethinylestradiol (EE) combined with DRSP. This study evaluates the impact of several doses of E4/DRSP and E4/LNG on safety parameters such as liver function, lipid metabolism, bone markers and growth endocrine parameters.This was a dose-finding, single-centre, controlled study performed in healthy women aged 18 to 35 years with a documented pretreatment ovulatory cycle. Participants received 5 mg or 10 mg E4/3 mg DRSP; 5 mg, 10 mg or 20 mg E4/150 ?g LNG; or 20 ?g EE/3 mg DRSP as a comparator for three consecutive cycles in a 24/4-day regimen. Changes from baseline to end of treatment in liver parameters, lipid metabolism, bone markers and growth endocrinology were evaluated.A total of 109 women were included in the study. Carrier proteins were minimally affected in the E4/DRSP and E4/LNG groups, in comparison with the EE/DRSP group, where a significant increase in sex hormone-binding globulin was observed. Similarly, minor effects on lipoproteins were observed in the E4 groups, and the effects on triglycerides elicited by the E4 groups were significantly lower than those in the EE/DRSP group. No imbalances in bone markers were observed in any groups. No alterations in insulin-like growth factor were observed in the E4 groups.E4-containing combinations have a limited effect on liver function, lipid metabolism, and bone and growth endocrine parameters.
Project description:The beneficial role of estrogen in the vascular system may be due, in part, through reduction of peripheral vascular resistance. The use of estrogen therapy to prevent cardiovascular disease in post-menopausal women remains contentious. This study investigated the influence of aging and the menopause on the acute vasodilatory effects of estrogen using ex vivo human and murine resistance arteries. Vessels were obtained from young (2.9?±?0.1 months) and aged (24.2?±?0.1 and 28.9?±?0.3 months) female mice and pre- (42.3?±?0.5 years) and post-menopausal (61.9?±?0.9 years) women. Aging was associated with profound structural alterations of murine uterine arteries, including the occurrence of outward hypertrophic remodeling and increased stiffness. Endothelial and smooth muscle function were diminished in uterine (and tail) arteries from aged mice and post-menopausal women. The acute vasodilatory effects of 17?-estradiol (non-specific estrogen receptor (ER) agonist), PPT (ER?-specific agonist) and DPN (ER?-specific agonist) on resistance arteries were attenuated by aging and the menopause. However, the impairment of estrogenic relaxation was evident after the occurrence of age-related endothelial dysfunction and diminished distensibility. The data indicate, therefore, that chronological resistance arterial aging is a prominent factor leading to weakened vasodilatory action of estrogenic compounds.