Tamoxifen (TAM) is widely used in the treatment of breast cancer. The cytostatic effects of TAM have been attributed to the antagonism of estrogen receptor (ER) and inhibition of estrogen-dependent proliferative events. However, the mechanism by which TAM is also effective against certain ER-negative breast tumors remains to be elucidated. Here we report that TAM induced the activity of caspase-3-like proteases in ER-negative breast cancer cell lines MDA-MB-231 and BT-20, as evidenced by the cleavage of fluorogenic tetrapeptide substrate and of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase. The activation of caspase-3-like proteases preceded TAM-induced chromatin condensation and nuclear fragmentation, the typical apoptotic morphologies. Pretreatment of cells with a specific inhibitor of caspase-3, acetyl-Asp-Glu-Val-Asp-aldehyde, or with a general inhibitor of caspases, benzyloxycarbonyl-Val-Ala-Asp-fluoromethyl ketone, prevented TAM-induced apoptosis. TAM also stimulated c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK) 1 activity, and interfering with the JNK pathway by overexpressing a DN JNK1 mutant attenuated TAM-induced apoptosis. In addition, treatment of cells with a lipid-soluble antioxidant vitamin E blocked TAM-induced caspase-3 and JNK1 activation as well as apoptosis, whereas water-soluble antioxidants N-acetyl L-cysteine and glutathione had little effect. Thus, this study demonstrates that TAM induces apoptosis in ER-negative breast cancer cells through caspase-3 and JNK1 pathways, which are probably initiated at the cell membrane by an oxidative mechanism.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||6|
|State||Published - Nov 1 2000|
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cancer Research