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2-Methoxyoestrogen sulphamates are a new class of compounds, which inhibit breast cancer cell proliferation and are also potent inhibitors of steroid sulphatase (STS) activity. In the present study, we have used two cell proliferation assays (MTS and AB) to identify potent new compounds in this class. Similar IC(50) values were obtained using these assays with two of the most potent compounds identified being 2-methoxyoestradiol-bis-sulphamate (2-MeOE2bisMATE) and 2-methoxyoestradiol-17beta-cyanomethyl-3-O-sulphamate (2-MeOE2CyMATE). Both compounds inhibited the proliferation of MCF-7 (ER+) and MDA-MB-231 (ER-) breast cancer cells. Using the AB assay, which allows repeat measurements of cell proliferation without killing cells, both compounds were shown to inhibit cell proliferation in an irreversible manner. As STS may be involved in the removal of the sulphamoyl moiety of these compounds, which could reduce their potency, their ability to inhibit the proliferation of MCF-7 cells transfected with the cDNA for STS was also examined. Although the STS activity was 20-fold higher in these cells than in non-transfected MCF-7 cells, no decrease in the ability of these compounds to inhibit cell proliferation was detected. To test the efficacy of these compounds in vivo, nude mice were inoculated with MCF-7 cells in Matrigel and stimulated to grow with oestradiol. Three weeks after the oral administration of 2-MeOE2bisMATE or 2-MeOE2CyMATE (20mg/kg/day, 5 days/week) tumour volumes had regressed by 52% and 22%, respectively. Both compounds also inhibited liver and tumour STS activity by >90%. The potent anti-proliferative effects of these compounds, and their ability to inhibit tumour growth and STS activity in vivo, indicates that they are suitable for development as novel therapeutic agents, which should be active against a wide range of cancers.

Original publication




Journal article


J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol

Publication Date





219 - 227


Breast Neoplasms, Cell Division, Cell Line, Tumor, Estradiol, Estrone, Female, Humans, Steryl-Sulfatase