Aromatase inhibitors: future directions

J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2005 May;95(1-5):183-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jsbmb.2005.04.021.


Estrogen and its cognate estrogen receptor are key players in the etiology and progression of breast cancer. Aromatase inhibitors, suppressing tumor and plasma estrogen levels by blocking testosterone conversion to estrogen, have been proven to provide the most effective endocrine therapy for postmenopausal breast cancer patients. Aromatase inhibitors are now the first choice endocrine therapy in the metastatic setting for postmenopausal women. These endocrine agents also seem likely to soon become the standard adjuvant therapy, either alone or in sequence with tamoxifen, though their long-term toxicity and the optimum duration of therapy still remain to be defined. Advanced experimental studies and some clinical observations reveal the importance of blocking both the genomic and non-genomic activities of the estrogen receptor, as well as its crosstalk with growth factor and other cellular signaling, for greatest effectiveness of endocrine therapy. Consequently, these studies provide a mechanistic explanation for the superb performance of aromatase inhibitors, and also suggest how inhibiting selected growth factor receptors might delay or prevent the onset of resistance to aromatase inhibitors and other endocrine therapies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal / therapeutic use*
  • Aromatase Inhibitors / metabolism
  • Aromatase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Drug Resistance
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal
  • Aromatase Inhibitors
  • Receptors, Estrogen