Retinoids as chemopreventive agents for breast cancer

Cancer Detect Prev. 1992;16(1):73-9.


Although several retinoids have been evaluated for prevention of mammary carcinogenesis in rats and mice, retinyl acetate (RA) and N-(4-hydroxyphenyl)retinamide (4-HPR) proved most effective. In rats, dietary administration of the retinoids reduced the incidence and number, and increased the latency of N-methyl-N-nitrosourea (MNU)-induced mammary cancers. 4-HPR reduced the number of hyperplastic alveolar nodules (HAN) in MTV- mice and the number of tumors in MTV+ mice. Other studies indicate that the synergistic effect of retinoid administration and hormonal deprivation is more efficacious in prevention of MNU-induced mammary cancer than either modality alone. Furthermore, retinoids alone and the combination of retinoid and tamoxifen inhibit the appearance of mammary cancers following the surgical removal of the first cancer as well as inhibit the growth of established cancers. Again, the combined modality was the most effective. Retinoids also exert an antiproliferative effect upon the mammary epithelium in vivo, which is represented morphologically by a bare duct system with little branching, end buds, and few, if any, alveoli. In organ culture, retinoids inhibit mammary end bud differentiation and proliferation induced by insulin and prolactin or carcinogens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / cytology
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / drug effects
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental / etiology
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental / pathology
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental / prevention & control*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Retinoids / therapeutic use*


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Retinoids