Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/2440/41974
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Type: Journal article
Title: Disruption of androgen receptor signaling by synthetic progestins may increase risk of developing breast cancer
Author: Birrell, S.
Butler, L.
Harris, J.
Buchanan, G.
Tilley, W.
Citation: FASEB Journal, 2007; 21(10):2285-2293
Publisher: Federation Amer Soc Exp Biol
Issue Date: 2007
ISSN: 0892-6638
1530-6860
Statement of
Responsibility: 
Stephen N. Birrell, Lisa M. Butler, Jonathan M. Harris, Grant Buchanan and Wayne D. Tilley
Abstract: There is now considerable evidence that using a combination of synthetic progestins and estrogens in hormone replacement therapy (HRT) increases the risk of breast cancer compared with estrogen alone. Furthermore, the World Health Organization has recently cited combination contraceptives, which contain synthetic progestins, as potentially carcinogenic to humans, particularly for increased breast cancer risk. Given the above observations and the current trend toward progestin-only contraception, it is important that we have a comprehensive understanding of how progestins act in the millions of women worldwide who regularly take these medications. While synthetic progestins, such as medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA), which are currently used in both HRT and oral contraceptives were designed to act exclusively through the progesterone receptor, it is clear from both clinical and experimental settings that their effects may be mediated, in part, by binding to the androgen receptor (AR). Disruption of androgen action by synthetic progestins may have serious deleterious side effects in the breast, where the balance between estrogen signaling and androgen signaling plays a critical role in breast homeostasis. Here, we review the role of androgen signaling in the normal breast and in breast cancer and present new data demonstrating that androgen receptor function can be perturbed by low doses of MPA, similar to doses achieved in serum of women taking HRT. We propose that the observed excess of breast malignancies associated with combined HRT may be explained, in part, by synthetic progestins such as MPA acting as endocrine disruptors to negate the protective effects of androgen signaling in the breast. Understanding the role of androgen signaling in the breast and how this is modulated by synthetic progestins is necessary to determine how combined HRT alters breast cancer risk, and to inform the development of optimal preventive and treatment strategies for this disease.
Keywords: hormone replacement therapy; medroxyprogesterone acetate; estrogen signaling
Description: Copyright © 2007 by The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
RMID: 0020072268
DOI: 10.1096/fj.06-7518com
Appears in Collections:Medicine publications

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