Chemico-biological interactions

The endometrial cancer cell lines Ishikawa and HEC-1A, and the control cell line HIEEC, differ in expression of estrogen biosynthetic and metabolic genes, and in androstenedione and estrone-sulfate metabolism.

PMID 25437045


Estrogens have important roles in the pathogenesis of endometrial cancer. They can have carcinogenic effects through stimulation of cell proliferation or formation of DNA-damaging species. To characterize model cell lines of endometrial cancer, we determined the expression profiles of the estrogen receptors (ERs) ESR1, ESR2 and GPER, and 23 estrogen biosynthetic and metabolic genes, and investigated estrogen biosynthesis in the control HIEEC cell line and the Ishikawa and HEC-1A EC cell lines. HIEEC and Ishikawa expressed all ERs to different extents, while HEC-1A cells lacked expression of ESR1. Considering the estrogen biosynthetic and metabolic enzymes, these cells showed statistically significant different gene expression profiles for SULT2B1, HSD3B2, CYP19A1, AKR1C3, HSD17B1, HSD17B7, HSD17B12, CYP1B1, CYP3A5, COMT, SULT1A1, GSTP1 and NQO2. In these cells, E2 was formed from E1S and E1, while androstenedione was not converted to estrogens. HIEEC and Ishikawa had similar profiles of androstenedione and E1 metabolism, but hydrolysis of E1S to E1 was weaker in Ishikawa cells. HEC-1A cells were less efficient for activation of E1 into the potent E2, but metabolized androstenedione to other androgenic metabolites better than HIEEC and Ishikawa cells. This study reveals that HIEEC, Ishikawa, and HEC-1A cells can all form estrogens only via the sulfatase pathway. HIEEC, Ishikawa, and HEC-1A cells expressed all the major genes in the production of hydroxyestrogens and estrogen quinones, and in their conjugation. Significantly higher CYP1B1 mRNA levels in Ishikawa cells compared to HEC-1A cells, together with lack of UGT2B7 expression, indicate that Ishikawa cells can accumulate more toxic estrogen-3,4-quinones than HEC-1A cells, as also for HIEEC cells. This study provides further characterization of HIEEC, Ishikawa, and HEC-1A cells, and shows that they differ greatly in expression of the genes investigated and in their capacity for E2 formation, and thus they represent different in vitro models.