The steroid hormone 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 [1,25-(OH)2D3] has potential to be used as an antitumor agent, but its clinical application is restricted by the strong calcemic activity. Therefore, new vitamin D3 analogues are developed with increased growth inhibitory and reduced calcemic activity. In the present study, we have examined the antiproliferative effects of four novel vitamin D3 analogues (CB966, EB1089, KH1060, and 22-oxa-calcitriol) on breast cancer cells, either alone or in combination with the antiestrogen tamoxifen. The estrogen-dependent ZR-75-1 and estrogen-responsive MCF-7 cell lines were used as a model. It was shown that, with EB1089 and KH1060, the same growth inhibitory effect as 1,25-(OH)2D3 could be reached at up to 100-fold lower concentrations, whereas CB966 and 22-oxa-calcitriol were nearly equipotent with 1,25-(OH)2D3. The growth inhibition by the vitamin D3 compounds could be augmented by combined treatment with tamoxifen. At the maximal effective concentrations of the vitamin D3 compounds, the effect of combined treatment was additive (MCF-7 cells) or less than additive (ZR-75-1 cells). Tamoxifen increased the sensitivity of the cells to the vitamin D3 compounds 2- to 4000-fold, which was expressed by a shift to lower median effective concentration values. Thereby, the vitamin D3 compounds may be used at even lower dosages in combination therapy with tamoxifen. A major problem of tamoxifen therapy is the development of tamoxifen resistance. We have observed that tamoxifen-resistant clones of ZR-75-1 cells retain their response to the vitamin D3 compounds. Regulation of the growth-related oncogene c-myc (mRNA level) and the estrogen receptor (protein level) were studied but appeared not to be related to the antiproliferative action of the vitamin D3 compounds. Together, our data point to a potential benefit of combination therapy with 1,25-(OH)2D3 or vitamin D3 analogues and tamoxifen for the treatment of breast cancer.

This content is only available via PDF.