BACKGROUND: The WHI trial suggests an increase of breast cancer in postmenopausal women probably according to the progestogenic compound, i.e. medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA). However, the mechanism for a possible carcinogenic effect of MPA remains unclear so far. Progesterone receptor membrane component-1 (PGRMC1) may be important in tumorigenesis and thus may increase breast cancer risk. We investigated the influence of MPA alone and in combination with growth factors on breast cancer cells overexpressing PGRMC1.METHODS: MCF-7 cells were stably transfected with PGRMC1 expression plasmid (WT-12 cells). Cells transfected only with the vector were used as control cells (EVC-cells). Medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA), norethisterone (NET) and progesterone (P) were tested alone and in combination with a mixture of growth factors. Cell proliferation was measured by MTT assay.RESULTS: The growth factor mixture (GF) was able to induce cell proliferation in both cell types, however, the effect was much higher in the WT-12 cells. In WT-12 cells both MPA and NET alone significantly increased cell proliferation with values of 40% and 97%, respectively. Progesterone, however, had no effect. In combination with GF MPA significantly further enhanced cell proliferation as compared to the effect of MPA alone and GF alone in both cell lines. NET showed no further increase as compared to NET alone and P had no effect.CONCLUSIONS: We could demonstrate a significant proliferative effect of MPA when combined with high concentrations of growth factors. This effect was more pronounced in breast cancer cells overexpressing PGRMC1. These results may be of clinical relevance since in the combined WHI trial an increased breast cancer risk was found during treatment with conjugated equine estrogens plus MPA.
Zhou, J., Yu, Q., Chen, R., Seeger, H., Fehm, T., Cahill, M., Mueck, AO., & Neubauer, H. (2013). Medroxyprogesterone acetate-driven increase in breast cancer risk might be mediated via cross-talk with growth factors in the presence of progesterone receptor membrane component-1. Maturitas, 76(2), 129-133. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.maturitas.2013.06.013