Activation of mitogen-activated protein kinase in xenografts and cells during prolonged treatment with aromatase inhibitor letrozole

Danijela Jelovac, Gauri Sabnis, Brian J. Long, Luciana Macedo, Olga G. Goloubeva, Angela M.H. Brodie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Scopus citations


Ovariectomized mice bearing tumor xenografts grown from aromatase-transfected estrogen receptor (ER)-positive human breast cancer cells (MCF-7Ca) were injected s.c. with 10 μg/d letrozole for up to 56 weeks. Western blot analysis of the tumors revealed that ERs (ERα) were increased at 4 weeks but decreased at weeks 28 and 56. Expression of erbB-2 and p-Shc increased throughout treatment, whereas growth factor receptor binding protein 2 (Grb2) increased only in tumors proliferating on letrozole (weeks 28 and 56). In cells isolated from tumors after 56 weeks and maintained as a cell line (LTLT-Ca) in 1 μmol/L letrozole, ERα was also decreased whereas erbB-2, adapter proteins (p-Shc and Grb2), and the signaling proteins in the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascade were increased compared with MCF-7Ca cells. Growth was inhibited in LTLT-Ca cells but not in MCF-7Ca cells treated with MAPK kinase 1/2 inhibitors U0126, and PD98059 (IC50 ∼ 25 μmol/L). PD98059 (5 μmol/L) also reduced MAPK activity and increased ERα to the levels in MCF-7Ca cells. Epidermal growth factor receptor kinase inhibitor, gefitinib (ZD1839) inhibited growth of LTLT-Ca cells (IC50 ∼ 10 μmol/L) and restored their sensitivity to tamoxifen and anastrozole. In xenografts, combined treatment with ER down-regulator fulvestrant and letrozole, prevented increases in erbB-2 and activation of MAPK and was highly effective in inhibiting tumor growth throughout 29 weeks of treatment. These results indicate that blocking both ER- and growth factor-mediated transcription resulted in the most effective inhibition of growth of ER-positive breast cancer cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5380-5389
Number of pages10
JournalCancer Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 15 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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