Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New light over the role of the hormone progesterone in breast cancer

13.12.2006
Progesterone is a female sex hormone known to regulate the growth of normal breast tissue while also seeming to be involved in breast cancer. Its exact role in the carcinogenic process, however, is still unclear.

But now, in work about to be published in the "Journal of Cellular Biochemistry", a team of Portuguese scientists shows that progesterone seems to sustain the formation of blood vessels, which, by supplying nutrients to the tumour cells, are vital for breast cancer progression. This finding has important implications not only for a better understanding of the disease, but also for present and future therapeutic approaches against it.

Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in the world with approximately 1 million of new cases every year, even if the disease tends to have a relatively favourable prognosis. One of the reasons for this is the fact that a majority of breast cancers are hormone-dependent, and treatments blocking these hormones (and consequently cancer progression) can be extremely effective, sometimes even more than chemotherapy.

In fact, ovarian hormones known to play an important role in the development of normal breast tissue - such as oestrogen and progesterone - also seem to be involved in breast cancer development, with 70 to 80% of primary breast tumours showing oestrogen and/or progesterone receptors in their cells. These receptors act as on-off switch; when the right molecule (in this case oestrogen or progesterone) binds to its specific receptor, the switch is turned on, leading, in the case of breast cancer, to disease progression. In result, anti-hormonal therapy (especially anti-oestrogen therapy), which blocks the hormones’ action, is widely used against the disease with good results.

But if oestrogen has been clearly associated with cancer growth, the role of progesterone in breast cancer (and consequently the importance and the specific mechanism of progesterone-blocking therapy) is much less clear.

But now Raquel Soares, Susana Guerreiro and Mónica Botelho from the University of Porto in Portugal found that breast cancer cells that respond to progesterone, produce, when exposed to the hormone, Platelet-derived growth factor A (PDGF-A) a protein known to stimulate cell growth and division. Furhermore, PDGF-A did not seem to act directly on the tumour cells, but was instead released into the space outside of the cell suggesting an effect on neighbouring cells.

Interaction between tumour cells and their environment is crucial for cancer progression and in fact PDGF-A has been suggested to be involved in the formation of new blood vessels (also called angiogenesis). Angiogenesis is a process crucial for cancer sustainability since without new blood vessels around the tumour site to supply nutrients, cancerous cells will starve and die. To test if PDGF-A could be in fact involved in the formation of blood vessels around breast cancer tumour sites, Soares and colleagues decided to analyse smooth muscle cells, which are known to be involved in this process while also have been described as having receptors for PDGF-A. And in fact, PDGF-A (and so progesterone) was found to increase the growth and viability of smooth muscle cells confirming a role to both these molecules supporting angiogenesis.

What Soares and colleagues’ work strongly suggest is that progesterone stimulates cancer development by helping the formation and stability of blood vessels formed adjacent to the tumour cells. These new blood vessels are, not only crucial to the supply of nutrients to cancer cells, but also important “exits” for these cells to spread throughout the body. These results show how current anti-progesterone therapies block cancer progression by targeting not only progesterone-dependent cancer cells but also the formation of new blood vessels, and emphasise the importance of continue to pursue anti-progesterone therapeutics.

Piece researched and written by:
Catarina Amorim (catarina.amorim@linacre.ox.ac.uk)

Catarina Amorim | alfa
Further information:
http://www.linacre.ox.ac.uk
http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/abstract/112737747/ABSTRACT

Further reports about: PDGF-A blood vessel formation hormone oestrogen progesterone progression receptor

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Kidney tumor: Genetic trigger discovered
18.06.2018 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht New type of photosynthesis discovered
18.06.2018 | Imperial College London

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

Im Focus: Photoexcited graphene puzzle solved

A boost for graphene-based light detectors

Light detection and control lies at the heart of many modern device applications, such as smartphone cameras. Using graphene as a light-sensitive material for...

Im Focus: Water is not the same as water

Water molecules exist in two different forms with almost identical physical properties. For the first time, researchers have succeeded in separating the two forms to show that they can exhibit different chemical reactivities. These results were reported by researchers from the University of Basel and their colleagues in Hamburg in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

From a chemical perspective, water is a molecule in which a single oxygen atom is linked to two hydrogen atoms. It is less well known that water exists in two...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Novel method for investigating pore geometry in rocks

18.06.2018 | Earth Sciences

Diamond watch components

18.06.2018 | Process Engineering

New type of photosynthesis discovered

18.06.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>