Trans-tamoxifen (TAM) has been used successfully in therapy for estrogen-dependent human breast tumors and prevention of their recurrence. The mechanism of this prevention was thought to be due to the interference of TAM with estrogen promotion. TAM has a wider anticarcinogenic action that is similar to other chemopreventive agents in that it suppresses tumor promotion in 2-stage carcinogenesis by interfering with the action of protein kinase C. We report that TAM (5 µm) totally inhibits hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) formation by 12-O-tetradecanoyl-phorbol-13-acetate (TPA)-treated human neutrophils. Interestingly, β-estradiol (10 µm) also slightly inhibits the oxidative burst of neutrophils. Petreatment of neutrophils with varying amounts of TAM and β-estradiol caused additive inhibition of H2O2 formation by the 2 agents. 4-Hydroxy-tamoxifen, a metabolite with the highest affinity for the estrogen receptor, was only as inhibitor as β-estradiol. Other derivatives (cis-, N-desmethyl-, and N-desdimethyl-tamoxifen) with low biological activities had a smaller effect on H2O2 formation. TPA-treated neutrophils were shown to contain 5-hydroxymethyl uracil (HMU). TAM prevented the TPA-induced formation of HMU in other cells. Like TPA, dietary fat, which is a risk factor for breast cancer, induces formation of HMU in the DNA of human white blood cells. TAM may suppress the dietary fat-induced HMU in the same manner at it does in TPA-induced neutrophils.


This work was supported in part by Grant CA 53003 from the National Cancer Institute (its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the National Cancer Institute), and by Grants 1 P42 ES 04895 and ES 00260 from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

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