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1.  Antiestrogen fulvestrant enhances the antiproliferative effects of epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitors in human non-small cell lung cancer 
Introduction
Estrogen receptor (ER) signaling and its interaction with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is a potential therapeutic target in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). To explore cross-communication between ER and EGFR, we have correlated ER pathway gene and protein expression profiles and examined effects of antiestrogens with or without EGFR inhibitors in preclinical models of human NSCLC.
Methods
We evaluated 54 NSCLC cell lines for growth inhibition with EGFR inhibitors, antiestrogen treatment or the combination. Each line was evaluated for baseline ER pathway protein expression. The majority were also evaluated for baseline ER pathway gene expression. Human NSCLC xenografts were evaluated for effects of inhibition of each pathway either individually or in combination.
Results
The specific antiestrogen fulvestrant has modest single agent activity in vitro, but in many lines fulvestrant adds to effects of EGFR inhibitors, including synergy in the EGFR mutant, erlotinib-resistant H1975 line. ERα, ERβ, progesterone receptor (PR)-A, PR-B and aromatase proteins are expressed in all lines to varying degrees, with trends towards lower aromatase in more sensitive cell lines. Sensitivity to fulvestrant correlates with greater baseline ERα gene expression. Tumor stability is achieved in human tumor xenografts with either fulvestrant or EGFR inhibitors, but tumors regress significantly when both pathways are inhibited.
Conclusions
These data provide a rationale for further investigation of the antitumor activity of combined therapy with antiestrogen and anti-EGFR agents in the clinic. Future work should also evaluate dual ER and EGFR inhibition in the setting of secondary resistance to EGFR inhibition.
doi:10.1097/JTO.0b013e31827d525c
PMCID: PMC3573351  PMID: 23399957
epidermal growth factor receptor; estrogen; estrogen receptor; lung cancer; fulvestrant
2.  The role of estrogen, progesterone and aromatase in human non-small-cell lung cancer 
Lung cancer management  2012;1(4):259-272.
SUMMARY
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in both men and women worldwide. Despite advances in treatment, patients have few effective therapeutic options and survival rates remain low. Emerging evidence suggests that the hormones estrogen and progesterone play a key role in the progression of non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The aromatase enzyme, which is responsible for a key step in estrogen biosynthesis, elicits higher levels of estrogen in lung tumors as well as in metastases compared with nonmalignant tissues. Thus, aromatase may prove to be a key predictive biomarker for treatment of NSCLC. Epidemiologic and preclinical data show estrogens play a critical role in lung tumor development and progression. Two estrogen receptors, α and β, are expressed in normal and in cancerous lung epithelium, and estrogen promotes gene transcription that stimulates cell proliferation and inhibits cell death. Furthermore, expression of both forms of estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor and aromatase in NSCLC specimens has been correlated with worse clinical outcomes. Combination therapies that include estrogen receptor downregulators and aromatase inhibitors are currently being assessed in Phase I–II clinical trials among patients with advanced NSCLC. Results will help guide future lung cancer management decisions, with a goal of achieving more effective and less toxic treatments for patients.
doi:10.2217/lmt.12.44
PMCID: PMC3643508  PMID: 23650476
3.  Aromatase Expression Predicts Survival in Women with Early-Stage Non–Small Cell Lung Cancer 
Cancer research  2007;67(21):10484-10490.
Estrogen signaling is critical in the progression of tumors that bear estrogen receptors. In most patients with breast cancer, inhibitors that block interactions of estrogen with its receptors or suppress the production of endogenous estrogens are important interventions in the clinic. Recent evidence now suggests that estrogen also contributes to the pathogenesis of non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). We used a human lung cancer xenograph model system to analyze the effect of aromatase or estradiol on tumor growth. We further examined the level of protein expression of aromatase in 422 patients with NSCLC using a high-density tissue microarray. Results were confirmed and validated on an independent patient cohort (n = 337). Lower levels of aromatase predicted a greater chance of survival in women 65 years and older. Within this population, the prognostic value of aromatase was greatest in earlier stage lung cancer (stage I/II). In addition, for women with no history of smoking, lower aromatase levels were a strong predictor of survival. Our findings implicate aromatase as an early-stage predictor of survival in some women with NSCLC. We predict that women whose lung cancers have higher levels of aromatase might be good candidates for targeted treatment with aromatase inhibitors.
doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-07-2607
PMCID: PMC3581354  PMID: 17974992
4.  Progesterone and estrogen receptor expression and activity in human non-small cell lung cancer 
Steroids  2011;76(9):910-920.
Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer mortality in male and female patients in the US. Although it is clear that tobacco smoking is a major cause of lung cancer, about half of all women with lung cancer worldwide are never-smokers. Despite a declining smoking population, the incidence of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), the predominant form of lung cancer, has reached epidemic proportions particularly in women. Emerging data suggest that factors other than tobacco, namely endogenous and exogenous female sex hormones, have a role in stimulating NSCLC progression. Aromatase, a key enzyme for estrogen biosynthesis, is expressed in NSCLC. Clinical data show that women with high levels of tumor aromatase (and high intratumoral estrogen) have worse survival than those with low aromatase. The present and previous studies also reveal significant expression and activity of estrogen receptors (ERα, ERβ) in both extranuclear and nuclear sites in most NSCLC. We now report further on the expression of progesterone receptor (PR) transcripts and protein in NSCLC. PR transcripts were significantly lower in cancerous as compared to non-malignant tissue. Using immunohistochemistry, expression of PR was observed in the nucleus and/or extranuclear compartments in the majority of human tumor specimens examined. Combinations of estrogen and progestins administered in vitro cooperate in promoting tumor secretion of vascular endothelial growth factor and, consequently, support tumor-associated angiogenesis. Further, dual treatment with estradiol and progestin increased the numbers of putative tumor stem/progenitor cells. Thus, ER- and/or PR-targeted therapies may offer new approaches to manage NSCLC.
doi:10.1016/j.steroids.2011.04.015
PMCID: PMC3129425  PMID: 21600232
Progesterone; Estrogen; Steroid hormone receptor; Non-small cell lung cancer; VEGF; Progenitor cells; Cancer stem cells; Angiogenesis
5.  Antiangiogenic Steroids in Human Cancer Therapy 
Despite advances in the early detection of tumors and in the use of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery for disease management, the worldwide mortality from human cancer remains unacceptably high. The treatment of cancer may benefit from the introduction of novel therapies derived from natural products. Natural products have served to provide a basis for many of the pharmaceutical agents in current use in cancer therapy. Emerging research indicates that progressive growth and spread of many solid tumors depends, in part, on the formation of an adequate blood supply, and this process of tumor-associated angiogenesis is reported to have prognostic significance in several human cancers. This review focuses on the potential application in antitumor therapy of naturally-occurring steroids that target tumor-associated angiogenesis. Squalamine, a 7,24 dihydroxylated 24-sulfated cholestane steroid conjugated to a spermidine at position C-3, is known to have strong antiangiogenic activity in vitro, and it significantly disrupts tumor proliferation and progression in laboratory studies. Work on the interactions of squalamine with vascular endothelial cells indicate that it binds with cell membranes, inhibits the membrane Na+/H+ exchanger and may further function as a calmodulin chaperone. These primary actions appear to promote inhibition of several vital steps in angiogenesis, such as blockade of mitogen-induced actin polymerization, cell–cell adhesion and cell migration, leading to suppression of endothelial cell proliferation. Preclinical studies with squalamine have shown additive benefits in tumor growth delay when squalamine is combined with cisplatin, paclitaxel, cyclophosphamide, genistein or radiation therapy. This compound has also been assessed in early phase clinical trials in cancer; squalamine was found to exhibit little systemic toxicity and was generally well tolerated by treated patients with various solid tumor malignancies, including ovarian, non-small cell lung and breast cancers. Clinical trials with squalamine alone or combined with standard chemotherapies or other biologic therapies, including antiangiogenic agents, should be considered for selected cancer patients, and further study of the mechanism of action and bioactivity of squalamine is warranted.
doi:10.1093/ecam/neh066
PMCID: PMC1062159  PMID: 15841278
malignancy; squalamine; tumor-associated angiogenesis; vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)
6.  Targeting Aromatase and Estrogen Signaling in Human Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer 
Lung cancer has become increasingly common in women, and gender differences in the physiology and pathogenesis of the disease have suggested a role for estrogens. In the lung recent data have shown local production of estrogens from androgens via the action of aromatase enzyme and higher levels of estrogen in tumor tissue as compared with surrounding normal lung tissue. High levels of aromatase expression are also maintained in metastases as compared with primary tumors. Consistent with these findings, clinical studies suggest that aromatase expression may be a useful predictive biomarker for prognosis in the management of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), the most common form of lung malignancy. Low levels of aromatase associate with a higher probability of long-term survival in older women with early stage NSCLC. Treatment of lung NSCLC xenografts in vivo with an aromatase inhibitor (exemestane) alone or combined with standard cisplatin chemotherapy elicits a significant reduction in tumor progression as compared to paired controls. Further, lung cancer progression is also governed by complex interactions between estrogen and growth factor signaling pathways to stimulate the growth of NSCLC as well as tumor-associated angiogenesis. We find that combination therapy with the multitargeted growth factor receptor inhibitor vandetanib and the estrogen receptor antagonist fulvestrant inhibit tumor growth more effectively than either treatment administered alone. Thus, incorporation of antiestrogen treatment strategies in standard antitumor therapies for NSCLC may contribute to improved patient outcome, an approach that deserves to be tested in clinical trials.
doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.04116.x
PMCID: PMC2782616  PMID: 19250205
non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC); aromatase; CYP19; estrogen receptor (ER); epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR); vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptor; anastrazole; exemestane; fulvestrant; vandetanib

Results 1-6 (6)