Estradiol and progesterone regulate proliferation and apoptosis in colon cancer

in Endocrine Connections
Correspondence: Rubén Carón, Email: rcaron@mendoza-conicet.gob.ar

Epidemiological studies describe estrogens as protectors in the development of colon cancer in postmenopausal women treated with hormone replacement therapy. However, the role of progesterone in colon cancer has been minimally studied and the results are controversial. For the above, the objective of this work was to determine the hormonal regulation exerted by natural ovarian steroids on proliferation and apoptosis in an experimental model of colon cancer in ovariectomized rats treated with 17 beta-estradiol and progesterone. Sprague Dawley rats were exposed to the carcinogen 1,2-dimethylhydrazine to induce colon tumors. Thirty days later, the rats were ovariectomized and treated with estradiol (60 μg/kg), progesterone (10 mg/kg), estradiol plus progesterone (60 μg/kg and 10 mg/kg) and vehicle. We observed no significant differences in colon cancer incidence and tumor multiplicity between the groups. Nevertheless, we observed a decrease in PCNA expression and a greater number of apoptotic index, higher expression of caspase 3, cleaved PARP and cleaved caspase 8 in tumors, confirming the activation of the extrinsic pathway of apoptosis by the combined treatment. In addition, we observed a higher expression of estrogen receptor beta in these tumors. We conclude that the action of both hormones, estradiol and progesterone, is necessary to reduce proliferation and increase apoptosis in colon tumors, probably through estrogen receptor beta activation.

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