Effects of long-term HRT and tamoxifen on the expression of progesterone receptors A and B in breast tissue from surgically postmenopausal cynomolgus macaques


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Abstract

SummaryEstrogen is a well-known mitogen in breast epithelium but the role of progesterone is complex and incompletely understood. In contrast to what is seen in the endometrium, combined estrogen/progestogen treatment for postmenopausal replacement (HRT) may carry a risk for breast cancer beyond that of estrogen alone. The ratio of the two progesterone receptor (PR) isoforms, PRA/PRB may define the response to progesterone in reproductive tissues. In a primate model for long-term HRT, surgically, postmenopausal cynomolgus macaques were treated for 35 months with conjugated equine estrogens (CEE), medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA), CEE+MPA and tamoxifen (n = 5 in all groups). The immunohistochemical expression of PRA, PRB and the androgen receptor (AR) in breast tissue was quantified by image analysis. Over all, the total PR immunostaining in glandular epithelium was more abundant during CEE (mean 12%) and tamoxifen (11%) treatment as compared to CEE/MPA (5%), MPA (4%) and untreated controls (6%). Differences in PRB expression were observed between treatment groups (p < 0.05). In the CEE group levels of PRA were unchanged while there was a decline in the CEE/MPA group. The mean PRA/PRB ratio in the CEE group was 2.7 and in the CEE/MPA group 0.2. Treatment with tamoxifen had effects similar to those of estrogen. There was in all groups a weak positive nuclear AR immunostaining. This is the first in vivo study on the effects on long-term hormonal treatment on the expression of PR isoforms in normal primate breast tissue. The results suggest that hormonal treatments have a different influence on the PRA/PRB balance in the breast.

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