Endogenous steroid hormones and local aromatase activity in the breast

J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 1991 Nov;39(5B):799-804. doi: 10.1016/0960-0760(91)90028-4.


To test the hypothesis of an increased activity of the enzyme aromatase in adipose tissue from affected when compared with non-affected quadrants of patients with breast cancer, the aromatase activity has been measured in tumour and fatty tissues dissected at specific sites from the breasts of 16 patients. Activity was measured after extensive purification of the product formed. Results, expressed in fmol/g of tissue, did not show a higher activity in the affected vs the non-affected quadrants. In the tumours, higher activities were found when expressed per g of tissue. Per mg of DNA, an indicator of the number of cells, tumour enzymatic activity was lower than in fatty tissues. The relations between the products of aromatase, oestrone and oestradiol in the various tissues point to the importance of additional enzymatic processes, especially of the reductive 17 beta-oestradiol dehydrogenase, in the accumulation of high quantities of oestradiol in the malignant tissue.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / enzymology
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Aromatase / isolation & purification
  • Aromatase / metabolism*
  • Breast / enzymology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • DNA, Neoplasm / analysis
  • Estradiol / analysis
  • Estrone / analysis
  • Female
  • Hormones / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Steroids / physiology*
  • Testosterone / physiology


  • DNA, Neoplasm
  • Hormones
  • Steroids
  • Estrone
  • Testosterone
  • Estradiol
  • Aromatase