The roles of estrogen receptors (ERs) and the efficacy of anti-estrogen (E2) therapies in pancreatic cancer stay controversial. The main objectives of this study were to investigate the potential roles of ERs in tumor progression and endocrine therapies.
The ER expression status in PANC-1 and SW1990 pancreatic cancer cell lines was determined. SRB assay, colony formation assay and proliferation assay were used to investigate the responses of these cells to E2. ERα-selective agonist propylpyrazoletriol (PPT), ERβ-selective agonist diarylpropionitrile (DPN), ERα over-expressed SW1990 cells, ERα knock-out PANC-1 cells and patient-derived xenografts (PDX) were applied to investigate the potential roles of ERα in pancreatic cancer. The phosphorylation of ERα-related signaling molecules extracellular regulated protein kinases (ERK1/2) and protein kinase B (AKT) were investigated. The in vivo anti-tumor efficacy and safety of letrozole (LTZ) combined with leuprorelin acetate (LA) and gemcitabine (GEM) were also preliminarily studied.
PANC-1 cells expressed much more ERα than SW1990 cells, and ERβ level was with less diversity. Accordingly, the proliferation of PANC-1 rather than SW1990 cells could be stimulated by E2, and only PANC-1 could respond to LTZ endocrine therapy in female but not male mice. The phosphorylation of ERK1/2 but not AKT was altered by over-expressed or knocking out of ERα with or without the addition of E2 and LTZ. The combination therapy of LTZ and GEM showed acceptable efficacy and safety.
This study showed the important roles of ERα in tumor progression and endocrine therapies of pancreatic cancer in women.

Copyright © 2018. Published by Elsevier Inc.