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Role of endothelin-1 in tamoxifen resistance: Mechanism for a new possible treatment strategy in breast cancer

Medical Hypotheses
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.mehy.2007.01.092
  • Biology
  • Medicine


Summary Breast cancer is the prevalent cancer worldwide. Excessive exposure to endogenous estrogen across a woman’s lifespan contributes to and may be a causal factor in breast cancer. Tamoxifen is a mixed estrogen agonist and antagonist, which is used in treatment and prevention of breast cancer as an estrogen antagonist. Many patients experience resistance to tamoxifen for which many mechanisms have been suggested. Endothelin-1 acts as a mitogen for human breast fibroblasts and it affects tumor cell proliferation, invasion, angiogenesis, neovascularization, mitogenesis, and apoptosis inhibition. Previous studies have shown that estradiol is effective in inhibiting endothelin synthesis in breast tissue and cardiovascular system. Tamoxifen as an estrogen receptor (ER) agonist in cardiovascular system has a cardioprotective effect and decreases endothelin level as a vasoconstrictor in cardiovascular system. But in breast tissue tamoxifen acts as an ER antagonist. According to the role of endothelin in breast cancer and inhibitory effect of estrogen on endothelin, we hypothesized that tamoxifen causes increasing in endothelin level or endothelin receptors probably by inhibitory effect on ER in breast tissue, leading to tamoxifen resistance. Therefore a combination of tamoxifen with endothelin antagonist seems to be a reasonable therapeutic strategy.

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