The endogenous concentrations and subcellular distribution of estrone and estradiol were measured in malignant and nonmalignant human breast tissue from pre- and postmenopausal women. The most striking finding was the significantly higher concentration of estradiol per g of tissue in the malignant tissues than in the nonmalignant tissues. The tissue concentrations of estradiol in pre- and postmenopausal women were similar despite the large differences in the peripheral plasma levels. No correlation was found between the estradiol receptor content and endogenous concentration and subcellular distribution of estradiol. No difference in the estrone tissue concentration was found between malignant and nonmalignant tissues. In comparison with human uterine tissues, which we have reported previously, human breast tissue “handles” estrogenic hormones differently from human uterine tissue. At equal concentrations of the estradiol receptor, concentrations and subcellular distribution of the estrogens are different in both tissues. It is concluded that the mechanism of action of estradiol via its receptor, a mechanism mainly based on studies in animal uterine tissue, applies only qualitatively to human breast cancer tissue.
Supported by the Koningin Wilhelmina Fonds, The Dutch Organisation for Cancer Research.