Effect of estradiol and antiestrogens on cholesterol biosynthesis in hormone-dependent and -independent breast cancer cell lines

Biochim Biophys Acta. 1988 Nov 18;972(2):167-78. doi: 10.1016/0167-4889(88)90115-2.


The effects of estradiol and/or antiestrogens on cholesterol biosynthesis were studied in two breast cancer cell lines. Cholesterogenic activity was evaluated after labeling cells with sodium [14C]acetate for increasing periods of time (up to 24 h) and measuring the incorporation of the radioactivity into nonsaponifiable lipids and into cholesterol, after separation from other labeled metabolites. We compared the effects of estradiol on cholesterogenesis with the well-known effects of this hormone on cell proliferation: estradiol stimulated both cholesterol synthesis and cell growth in MCF-7 cells, but stimulated neither in BT20 cells. The stimulation affected both the 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMGCoA) reductase step and the post-HMGCoA steps. Only the key enzyme step appeared to be mediated by the estrogen receptor. The hydroxytamoxifen and LY 117018 antiestrogens strongly inhibited cellular cholesterol production in both cell lines. Under the same conditions, cell growth is affected in MCF-7 cells, but not in BT20 (as shown by groups from other laboratories). This demonstrates that de novo synthesis of cholesterol is not essential for cell growth when cells are cultured in the presence of whole serum. The inhibition of cholesterol synthesis by antiestrogens mainly affected the lanosterol demethylation step and the C-27 sterol to cholesterol conversion. This inhibiting effect of antiestrogens was not mediated by the estrogen receptor.

MeSH terms

  • Acetates / metabolism
  • Acetic Acid
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Cell Line
  • Cholesterol / biosynthesis*
  • Estradiol / pharmacology*
  • Estrogen Antagonists / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl CoA Reductases / metabolism
  • Tamoxifen / analogs & derivatives*
  • Tamoxifen / pharmacology*


  • Acetates
  • Estrogen Antagonists
  • Tamoxifen
  • afimoxifene
  • Estradiol
  • Cholesterol
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl CoA Reductases
  • Acetic Acid