The metabolism of estradiol was studied in 31 human breast carcinoma in vitro. All 16 estrogen-receptor-poor tumors transformed estradiol to estrone with percent conversions ranging from 11.4 to 95 except for one poorly differentiated tumor where 0.5% conversion to estrone was observed. On the contrary, only 3 out of 15 estrogen-receptor-rich tumors showed higher than 10% conversion of estradiol to estrone (p = 0.001). There is indication that the enzymatic activity in receptor-poor tumors steadily decreases in premenopausal patients as they approach menopausal age, whereas, the activity steadily increases in post-menopausal patients as the duration of menopause lengthens.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This investigation was supported in part by Public Health Service Grant CA20530 from the National Cancer Institute. The authors wish to thank Dr. Frank Ungar for helpful discussions and critical revision of the manuscript.