Endogenous C19-steroids and oestradiol levels in human primary breast tumour tissues and their correlation with androgen and oestrogen receptors

J Steroid Biochem. 1986 Jun;24(6):1117-25. doi: 10.1016/0022-4731(86)90372-9.


Endogenous levels of testosterone, 5 alpha-dihydrotestosterone (5 alpha-DHT), androstenedione and oestradiol as well as levels of androgen (AR) and oestrogen (ER) receptors were measured in human primary breast tumour samples. The purification procedure developed allowed simultaneous quantitation of the four steroids, by radioimmunoassay, in small samples with adequate precision, sensitivity and accuracy. The majority of the tumours analysed contained detectable levels of the four steroids in the homogenate or cytosol fractions. There was no significant correlation between steroid content of the tissue and the age of the patient for any of the four steroids. A positive correlation (r = 0.71) was found between the levels of 5 alpha-DHT and testosterone in tumours. In general, tissue steroid concentrations decreased with an increase in dedifferentiation. Fifty-two per cent of the tumours analysed for receptor content were found to be ER positive, and a similar proportion were AR positive. No relationship was observed between AR status and age although receptor concentration was significantly (P = 0.004) higher in post-menopausal women when only receptor positive tumours were evaluated. The mean values for AR and ER were higher in tumours containing both receptors than in tumours showing either receptor alone; there was, however, no significant relationship between concentrations of the two receptors. No correlation was observed between tumour AR or ER status and any of the four steroids measured in either fraction. In addition, the ratio between the combined levels of 5 alpha-DHT and testosterone compared to oestradiol in the same tumour, only showed a maximum value of 40. Thus, in vivo these two androgens are unlikely to influence oestrogen action in human primary breast tumours by interfering with the association of oestradiol with its receptor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Androgens / analysis*
  • Androstenedione / analysis
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Dihydrotestosterone / analysis
  • Estradiol / analysis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Menopause
  • Middle Aged
  • Radioimmunoassay
  • Receptors, Androgen / analysis*
  • Receptors, Estrogen / analysis*
  • Testosterone / analysis


  • Androgens
  • Receptors, Androgen
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Dihydrotestosterone
  • Testosterone
  • Androstenedione
  • Estradiol