Steroid sulfatase and estrogen sulfotransferase in normal human tissue and breast carcinoma

J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2003 Sep;86(3-5):449-54. doi: 10.1016/s0960-0760(03)00356-x.


Steroid sulfatase (STS) hydrolyzes inactive estrone sulfate (E1-S) to estrone (E1), while estrogen sulfotransferase (EST; SULT 1E1 or STE gene) sulfonates estrogens to estrogen sulfates. They are considered to play important roles in the regulation of local estrogenic actions in various human tissues, however, their biological significance remains largely unknown. Therefore, we examined the expression of STS and EST in non-pathologic human tissues and breast carcinomas. STS expression was very weak except for the placenta, while EST expression was markedly detected in various tissues examined. In breast carcinoma tissues, STS and EST immunoreactivity was detected in carcinoma cells in 74 and 44% of cases, respectively, and was significantly associated with their mRNA levels and enzymatic activities. STS immunoreactivity was significantly correlated with the tumor size, and an increased risk of recurrence. EST immunoreactivity was inversely correlated with the tumor size or lymph node status. Moreover, EST immunoreactivity was significantly associated with a decreased risk of recurrence or improved prognosis. Our results suggest that EST is involved in protecting various peripheral tissues from excessive estrogenic effects. In the breast carcinoma, STS and EST are suggested to play important roles in the regulation of in situ estrogen production in the breast carcinomas.

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / surgery
  • Epithelial Cells / enzymology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hepatocytes / enzymology
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Leydig Cells / enzymology
  • Male
  • Mammary Glands, Human / cytology
  • Mammary Glands, Human / metabolism
  • Placenta / cytology
  • Placenta / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • Steryl-Sulfatase / metabolism*
  • Sulfotransferases / metabolism*
  • Survival Analysis
  • Testis / cytology
  • Testis / metabolism
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Trophoblasts / enzymology


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Sulfotransferases
  • estrone sulfotransferase
  • Steryl-Sulfatase