The relationship between sex steroids and cancer has been studied for more than a century. Using an original intact cell analysis, we investigated sex steroid metabolism in a panel of human cancer cell lines, either hormone responsive or unresponsive, originating from human breast, endometrium, and prostate. We found that highly divergent patterns of steroid metabolism exist and that the catalytic preference (predominantly reductive or oxidative) is strictly associated with the steroid receptor status of cells. We explored intra-tissue concentrations and profiles of estrogens in a set of human breast tumors as compared to normal mammary tissues, also in relation to their estrogen receptor status. In particular, we showed that, with hydroxyestrogens representing the majority of all tissue estrogens, concentrations of individual metabolites, as well as their ratios, significantly differ when comparing normal tissue with cancer tissues or when they are related to the overall survival of cancer patients. © 2004 New York Academy of Sciences.
- History and Philosophy of Science