The Journal of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics

Exemestane and Its Active Metabolite 17-Hydroexemestane Induce UDP-Glucuronosyltransferase (UGT) 2B17 Expression in Breast Cancer Cells.

PMID 28404691


Exemestane (EXE) is an aromatase inhibitor indicated for endocrine therapy of breast cancer in postmenopausal women. The primary active metabolite of EXE, 17-hydroexemestane (17-HE), is inactivated via glucuronidation, mainly by UDP-glucuronosyltransferase 2B17 (UGT2B17). UGT2B17 also has a primary role in inactivation of endogenous androgens testosterone and dihydrotestosterone and may play an important role in regulation of breast and prostate tumor intracrinology. We recently reported that UGT2B17 could be induced by both estrogenic and androgenic ligands in breast cancer cells via binding of the estrogen receptor α (ERα) or the androgen receptor (AR) to a complex regulatory unit in the proximal UGT2B17 promoter. In this study we show that both EXE and 17-HE increase UGT2B17 mRNA levels in breast cancer MCF-7 and MDA-MB-453 cells, and increase glucuronidation of UGT2B17 substrates, including 17-HE and androsterone. Using antagonists of ERα and AR as well as inhibition mediated by small interfering RNA (siRNA) we demonstrate that EXE and 17-HE induce UGT2B17 expression primarily via the AR. This result is consistent with previous reports that 17-HE can act as an AR ligand. In vitro studies suggest that multiple steroid-responsive DNA elements within the proximal promoter are involved in the response to 17-HE-liganded AR. The up-regulation of UGT2B17 by EXE and 17-HE in breast cancer cells might enhance the local metabolism of 17-HE as well as that of endogenous androgens, hence impacting potentially on treatment outcomes.

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