A metabolite of equine estrogens, 4-hydroxyequilenin, induces DNA damage and apoptosis in breast cancer cell lines
Constantinou, Andreas I.
Van Breemen, R. B.
Elguindi, E. C.
Blond, S. Y.
Bolton, J. L.
SourceChemical research in toxicology
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Estrogen replacement therapy has been correlated with an increased risk of developing breast or endometrial cancer. 4-Hydroxyequilenin (4-OHEN) is a catechol metabolite of equilenin which is a minor component of the estrogen replacement formulation marketed under the name of Premarin (Wyeth-Ayerst). Previously, we showed that 4-OHEN autoxidizes to quinoids which can consume reducing equivalents and molecular oxygen, are potent cytotoxins, and cause a variety of damage to DNA, including formation of bulky stable adducts, apurinic sites, and oxidation of the phosphate-sugar backbone and purine/pyrimidine bases [Bolton, J. L., Pisha, E., Zhang, F., and Qiu, S. (1998) Chem. Res. Toxicol. 11, 1113-1127]. All of these deleterious effects could contribute to the cytotoxic and genotoxic effects of equilenin in vivo. In the study presented here, we examined the relative toxicity of 4-OHEN in estrogen receptor (ER) positive cells (MCF-7 and S30) compared to that in breast cancer cells without the estrogen receptor (MDA-MB-231). The data showed that 4-OHEN was 4-fold more toxic to MCF-7 cells (LC50 = 6.0 ± 0.2 μM) and 6-fold more toxic to S30 cells (LC50 = 4.0 ± 0.1 μM) than to MDA-MB-231 cells (LC50 = 24 ± 0.3 μM). Using the single-cell gel electrophoresis assay (comet assay) to assess DNA damage, we found that 4- OHEN causes concentration-dependent DNA single-strand cleavage in all three cell lines, and this effect could be enhanced by agents which catalyze redox cycling (NADH) or deplete cellular GSH (diethyl maleate). In addition, the ER+ cell lines (MCF-7 and S30) were considerably more sensitive to induction of DNA damage by 4-OHEN than the ER- cells (MDA-MB-231). 4-OHEN also caused a concentration-dependent increase in the amount of mutagenic lesion 8-oxo-dG in the S30 cells as determined by LC/MS-MS. Cell morphology assays showed that 4-OHEN induces apoptosis in these cell lines. As observed with the toxicity assay and the comet assay, the ER+ cells were more sensitive to induction of apoptosis by 4-OHEN than MDA-MB-231 cells. Finally, the endogenous catechol estrogen metabolite 4-hydroxyestrone (4-OHE) was considerably less effective at inducing DNA damage and apoptosis in breast cancer cell lines than 4-OHEN. Our data suggest that the cytotoxic effects of 4-OHEN may be related to its ability to induce DNA damage and apoptosis in hormone sensitive cells in vivo, and these effects may be potentiated by the estrogen receptor.
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