Lung cancer is the most common cancer in the world. It is a highly lethal disease in women and men, and new treatments are urgently needed. Previous studies implicated a role of estrogens and estrogen receptors in lung cancer progression, and this steroidal growth-stimulatory pathway may be promoted by tumor expression and activity of aromatase, an estrogen synthase. We found expression of aromatase transcripts and protein in human non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells using reverse transcription-PCR and Western immunoblots, respectively. Aromatase staining by immunohistochemistry was detected in 86% of archival NSCLC tumor specimens from the clinic. Further, biological activity of aromatase was determined in NSCLC tumors using radiolabeled substrate assays as well as measure of estradiol product using ELISA. Significant activity of aromatase occurred in human NSCLC tumors, with enhanced levels in tumor cells compared with that in nearby normal cells. Lung tumor aromatase activity was inhibited by anastrozole, an aromatase inhibitor, and treatment of tumor cells in vitro with anastrozole led to significant suppression of tumor cell growth. Similarly, among ovariectomized nude mice with A549 lung tumor xenografts, administration of anastrozole by p.o. gavage for 21 days elicited pronounced inhibition of tumor growth in vivo. These findings show that aromatase is present and biologically active in human NSCLCs and that tumor growth can be down-regulated by specific inhibition of aromatase. This work may lead to development of new treatment options for patients afflicted with NSCLC.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research