The role of steroid metabolism in women with breast cancer in different menopausal status. Comprehensive study.

V. Poór , S.Juricskay PhD

Central Research Laboratory, Faculty of Medicine, University of Pécs, Hungary

AIM: To examine the changes of steroid metabolism in women with breast cancer according to their menopausal status. METHODS: 24h urinary steroid components were measured after enzyme hydrolysis and methoxim-silyl derivatization by capillary gas chromatography in pre-, peri-, and postmenopausal women with breast cancer on the day before surgery, and were compared to three aged matched control groups who were before an operation from other cases than cancer. RESULTS: Androsterone (A) (p<0.02) the metabolite of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and the main cortisol metabolites: tetrahydrocortisone (THE) (p<0.02), tetrahydrocortisol (THF) (p<0.05) and allo- tetrahydrocortisol (aTHF) (p<0.02) were significantly decreased in premenopausal women with breast cancer. The level of androstanediol (5αAD) (p<0.05) and androstenetriol (5ΔAT) (p<0.05) were significantly decreased in perimenopausal breast cancer patients. Only the pregnanediol (PD) level was significantly lower (p<0.05) in postmenopausal women with breast cancer. CONCLUSION: These results indicate that metabolic changes exist in women with breast cancer, and pointed to the differences of the steroid metabolism according to the menopausal status. By our examination the hormonal factors have much more important role in the premenopausal patients, than in the postmenopausal ones. Our results of decreased androgenes in premenopausal women correspond with the known inhibitor effect of androgenes on the breast cancer cells. Our findings on the significantly lower PD level referred to the role of progesterone in postmenopausal patients. In the perimenopausal status we experimented the decreased values of androstanediol and androstenetriol, and these findings are consistent with the published data that these compounds have androgen like inhibitory properties in MCF-7 human breast cancer cells.

KEY WORDS: urinary steroids, at time of surgery, gas chromatography, premenopausal, perimenopausal, postmenopausal.

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Paper presented at the International Symposium on Predictive Oncology and Intervention Strategies; Paris, France; February 9 - 12, 2002; in the section on Molecular Pathology.