Toxicology letters

Altered apoptotic response in MCF 10A cells treated with the equine estrogen metabolite, 4-hydroxyequilenin.

PMID 15501614


Excessive exposure to synthetic and endogenous estrogens has been associated with the development of cancer in several tissues including the breast. 4-Hydroxyequilenin (4-OHEN), a major catechol metabolite of equine estrogens present in Premarin, an estrogen replacement formulation, has been shown to induce apoptosis and DNA damage in human breast cancer cells. It also has the potential to be a tumor initiator or promoter and complete carcinogen. To further understand the effects and mechanisms of equine catechol estrogen metabolite 4-OHEN action in vitro, human non-tumorigenic mammary epithelial MCF 10A cell line was used to study the toxic effects of 4-OHEN. In this study, we observed that 4-OHEN caused dose-dependent increases in apoptosis and DNA damage as measured by the DAPI nuclear screening assay and the Comet assay, respectively. Interestingly, cells treated with 100 nM 4-OHEN biweekly for 4 weeks became resistant to cisplatin-induced apoptosis. The resistance to apoptosis of the 100 nM 4-OHEN-treated cells was through multiple regulatory mechanisms. Compared to the DMSO-treated cells, the 100 nM 4-OHEN-treated cells had higher GSH levels and total SOD activity, and a stronger GSH response after cisplatin treatment. Expression levels of several genes involved in cell growth, DNA repair, and apoptosis were either up- or down-regulated. These data indicate that long-term low-level equine estrogen metabolite exposure could induce DNA damage and initiate cells to become resistant to apoptosis.

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DAPI, for nucleic acid staining
C16H15N5 · 2HCl