Regulation of endometrial adenocarcinoma cell proliferation by Activin-A and its modulation by 17beta-estradiol

Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2002 Jun 28;192(1-2):187-95. doi: 10.1016/s0303-7207(01)00648-7.


A role for activins in regulating cellular transformation is suggested by the alpha-inhibin knockout mouse in which development of gonadal tumors is associated with elevated activin levels. It was the purpose of the current study to determine whether activin had similar actions on endometrial cell lines, specifically on a well differentiated estrogen-responsive endometrial adenocarcinoma cell line (ISH) and estrogen-unresponsive cells (HEC-50) obtained from a poorly differentiated endometrial adenocarcinoma. Activin was secreted by both adenocarcinoma cell lines. Using reverse transcription-PCR, messenger RNA type I and type II activin receptor subtypes were detected in both cell lines: expression of IB and IIB was approximately three- to fourfold greater in ISH cells than in HEC-50 cells, while activin receptor IA and IIA messenger RNA levels were approximately equal in both cell lines. Activin treatment (30-300 ng/ml) caused a dose- and time-dependent inhibition of ISH cells proliferation and resulted in a significant decrease in Bcl-2 protein and mRNA levels. No difference was observed in Bax expression. There was no significant effect of activin when the cultures of ISH cells were exposed to 17beta-estradiol. In contrast, activin showed a weak, but significant, mitogenic effect on HEC-50 cells without modifications in Bax and Bcl-2 mRNA and protein levels. The results demonstrate that activin is a regulator of endometrial cancer cell growth. 17beta-Estradiol may promote resistance of estrogen-responsive endometrial cancer cells to the growth-retarding effects of activin and one of the mechanisms might be a down-regulation of the activin receptors.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Activin Receptors, Type I / biosynthesis
  • Activin Receptors, Type I / genetics
  • Activin Receptors, Type II / biosynthesis
  • Activin Receptors, Type II / genetics
  • Activins / pharmacology
  • Activins / physiology*
  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Down-Regulation / drug effects
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Estradiol / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Inhibin-beta Subunits / pharmacology
  • Inhibin-beta Subunits / physiology*
  • Neoplasm Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics
  • Neoplasm Proteins / physiology*
  • Protein Subunits
  • Proteins*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / physiology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / physiology
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • RNA, Neoplasm / biosynthesis
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured / drug effects
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured / metabolism
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein


  • BAX protein, human
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Protein Subunits
  • Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Neoplasm
  • activin A
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein
  • Activins
  • Estradiol
  • Inhibin-beta Subunits
  • ACVR1 protein, human
  • Activin Receptors, Type I
  • Activin Receptors, Type II
  • activin receptor type II-A