In previous studies, we observed that the stimulatory effect of (Bu)2cAMP on aromatase activity of human adipose stromal cells was markedly attenuated when fetal calf serum was present in the culture medium. To determine whether growth fators may be the inhibitors of (Bu)2cAMP-stimulated aromatase activity in serum, the effects of growth factors and phorbol esters on aromatase activity of human adipose stromal cells in monolayer culture were investigated. Epidermal growth factor (EGF), fibroblast growth factor (FGF), and platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) were all without effect on aromatase activity when added by themselves, but markedly inhibited aromatase activity stimulated by (Bu)2cAMP. On the other hand, nerve growth factor, multiplication-stimulating activity, relaxin, and insulin had no effect on aromatase activity, either by themselves or in the presence of (Bu)2cAMP. Thus, EGF, PDGF, and FGF can mimic the inhibitory action of fetal calf serum on (Bu)2cAMP-stimulated aromatase activity of these cells. By contrast, none of these substances was capable of mimicking the effect of serum to facilitate the stimulatory action of dexamethasone on aromatase activity of these cells. The phorbol esters phorbol-12-myristate-13-acetate, phorbol-12,13-didecanoate, and phorbol-12,13-diacetate were also capable of facilitating the action of (Bu)2cAMP to stimulate aromatase activity, but had little or no action on dexamethasone-stimulated aromatase activity or when added by themselves. It is concluded that aromatase is under multifactorial regulation in human adipose stromal cells. The activity is induced by glucocorticoids and by agents that stimulate cAMP-dependent protein kinase; the latter effect is potentiated by factors that stimulate protein kinase C, but is suppressed by growth factors such as EGF, FGF, and PDGF, whose actions are believed to be mediated by receptor-linked tyrosine kinase activity.
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