New cell culture model for aromatase inhibitor-resistant breast cancer shows sensitivity to fulvestrant treatment and cross-resistance between letrozole and exemestane

Stine Hole, Astrid M Pedersen, Susanne K Hansen, Johan Lundqvist, Christina W Yde, Anne E Lykkesfeldt
International Journal of Oncology 2015, 46 (4): 1481-90
Aromatase inhibitor (AI) treatment is first-line systemic treatment for the majority of postmenopausal breast cancer patients with estrogen receptor (ER)-positive primary tumor. Although many patients benefit from treatment, some will develop resistance, and models mimicking acquired resistance will be valuable tools to unravel the resistance mechanisms and to find new treatments and biomarkers. Cell culture models for acquired resistance to the three clinically relevant AIs letrozole, anastrozole and exemestane were developed by selection and expansion of colonies of MCF-7 breast cancer cells surviving long-term AI treatment under conditions where endogenous aromatase-mediated conversion of androgen to estrogen was required for growth. Four cell lines resistant to each of the AIs were established and characterized. Maintenance of ER expression and function was a general finding, but ER loss was seen in one of twelve cell lines. HER receptor expression was increased, in particular EGFR expression in letrozole-resistant cell lines. The AI-resistant cell lines had acquired ability to grow without aromatase-mediated conversion of testosterone to estradiol, but upon withdrawal of AI treatment, testosterone induced minor growth stimulation. Letrozole, exemestane and tamoxifen were able to abrogate the testosterone stimulation but could not reduce growth to below the level in standard growth medium with AI, demonstrating cross-resistance between letrozole, exemestane and tamoxifen. In contrast, fulvestrant totally blocked growth of the AI resistant cell lines both after withdrawal of AI and with AI treatment. These data show that ER is the main driver of growth of the AI-resistant cell lines and indicate ligand-independent activation of ER. Fulvestrant is an efficient treatment option for these AI-resistant breast cancer cells, and the cell lines will be useful tools to disclose the underlying molecular mechanism for resistance to the different AIs.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"