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Synthesis of oestrone from androstenedione within tumours, by the aromatase enzyme complex, is an important source of oestrogen that is available to support the growth of hormone-dependent breast tumours. In view of the central role that the aromatase enzyme has in oestrogen synthesis there has been considerable interest in understanding its regulation and developing inhibitors to block its action. In the present study we have derived fibroblasts from breast tumours (TFs), tissue proximal to tumours (PFs) and reduction mammoplasty tissue (RMFs) and used them to investigate the regulation of aromatase activity by PGE(2), IL-6 plus its soluble receptor (SR) or TNFalpha. In addition we have examined the ability of 2-methoxyoestrone sulphamate (2-MeOEMATE), a compound which alters microtubule stability, to block the stimulation of aromatase activity by these factors. Basal aromatase activity in PFs was significantly higher (p<0.001) than in TFs or RMFs. The combination of IL-6 plus SR or TNFalpha produced the greatest stimulation of aromatase activity in TFs (up to 61-fold) while having a much lower stimulatory effects on aromatase activity in PFs (up to 60% increase) or RMFs (up to 192% increase). 2-MeOEMATE reduced basal aromatase activity in TFs by 87% and completely abrogated the ability of PGE(2), IL-6 plus SR or TNFalpha to stimulate aromatase activity in these fibroblasts. Results from these studies indicate that while PFs have the highest level of non-stimulated aromatase activity, aromatase activity in TFs shows the greatest response to cytokines. These findings suggest that intrinsic difference may exist for the different types of fibroblasts in the way in which they respond to regulatory factors. The ability of 2-MeOEMATE to block cytokine stimulated aromatase activity suggests that, in addition to its other anti-cancer properties, this compound may also act to inhibit cytokine-stimulated aromatase activity in breast tumours.

Original publication




Journal article


J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol

Publication Date





167 - 172


Aromatase, Aromatase Inhibitors, Breast, Breast Neoplasms, Cell Line, Tumor, Cytokines, Dinoprostone, Estrone, Female, Fibroblasts, Humans