Growth inhibition by anti-estrogens and progestins in TGF-beta-resistant and -sensitive breast-tumor cells

Int J Cancer. 1996 Mar 1;65(5):682-7. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1097-0215(19960301)65:5<682::AID-IJC20>3.0.CO;2-8.


Transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) is a potent growth inhibitor of non-malignant breast tissue, and TGF-beta resistance could play a role in tumorigenesis. Treatment of breast-tumor cells with anti-estrogens and progestins has been shown to correlate with an increase in the levels of secreted TGF-beta, suggesting that the growth inhibition observed with these (anti)hormones is mediated by this growth factor. In the present study we have investigated the effects of anti-estrogens and progestins on breast-tumor cell lines, which are either resistant or sensitive to TGF-beta. A hormone-independent variant of the MCF7 cell line is shown to have lost its sensitivity to TGF-beta during its progression towards an autonomous phenotype, but has preserved its sensitivity to anti-estrogens. In addition, evidence is presented showing that progestins and anti-estrogens inhibit proliferation, irrespective of the sensitivity to TGF-beta in variants of the T47D cell line. Therefore, we conclude that, although TGF-beta seems an important growth inhibitor for mammary epithelial cells, both progestins and anti-estrogens can inhibit cell proliferation independent of induced TGF-beta production.

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Estrogen Antagonists / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Growth Inhibitors*
  • Humans
  • Progestins / pharmacology*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Receptors, Estrogen / physiology
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / pharmacology
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Estrogen Antagonists
  • Growth Inhibitors
  • Progestins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta