Breast cancer and (25R)-26-hydroxycholesterol

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(25R)-26-Hydroxycholesterol (27-hydroxycholesterol) has been found to accumulate in breast tissue and to stimulate tumor growth via the estrogen receptor. Although most tissues express CYP27A1, the highest levels are in macrophages and most attention had been given to the production of 27-hydroxycholesterol in sub-endothelial macrophages as part of reverse cholesterol transport. In view of the newly identified biologic activity, it is important to consider the determinants of the levels of 27-hydroxycholesterol in macrophages that infiltrate breast tissue. Among these determinants are the oxysterol binding proteins expressed in macrophages, the level of expression of CYP7B1, the oxysterol 7 alpha hydroxylase that generates an inactive triol, and further oxidation of 27-hydroxycholestrol to the C27 acid by multifunctional CYP27A1. Transport of 27-hydroxycholesterol from macrophages to plasma is HDL-associated. In many tissues the ratio of 27-hydroxycholesterol to cholesterol (ng/μg) is higher than that in plasma. Tamoxifen, an effective estrogen receptor antagonist that prevents breast cancer, also has the biologic property of blocking several steps in the lanosterol to cholesterol metabolic pathway. In genetically disposed women, tamoxifen may increase the amount of 27-hydroxycholesterol in breast tissue.

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