A cell line of human endometrial adenocarcinoma (HEC-1), established by Kuramoto et al. in 1968, was studied. The presence of estradiol receptors in these cells was documented. The receptors were found to reside mainly in the nucleus, even when cells were grown in estrogen-free medium. Isolated nuclei from HEC cells could be labeled during incubations with [3H]estradiol at 0–4°. The induction of estradiol 17β-dehydrogenase by progestins, which has been demonstrated to occur in vivo and in vitro in normal proliferative endometrium, was attempted with these cells. The attempts were unsuccessful both when estradiol and medroxyprogesterone acetate were added to the culture medium and when they were injected into hamsters bearing adenomatous tumors resulting from the transplantation of HEC cells into the cheek pouch.

Intact glands, free of stromal components, were obtained by collagenase treatment of specimens of well-differentiated endometrial carcinoma, followed by filtration through stainless steel sieves. An abundance of branched glands was evident by light microscopy. Epithelial cell monolayers were derived from these glands and examined by light and electron microscopy.

The preparation of glands and epithelial cell monolayers from specimens of endometrial carcinoma may provide opportunities to evaluate the responsiveness of the neoplasm to progestins, a test of potential value for the prediction of the efficacy of progestin treatment in individual patients. This approach may obviate the problems of viability encountered during the maintenance of fragments of carcinomatous tissue in organ culture.


Presented at the John E. Fogarty International Center Conference on Hormones and Cancer, March 29 to 31, 1978, Bethesda, Md. This investigation was supported by Grant CA 15648 awarded by the National Cancer Institute and by Grant HD 07197 awarded by NIH, Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

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