Estrone sulfate transport and steroid sulfatase activity in colorectal cancer: implications for Hormone Replacement Therapy

Lorna Gilligan, Alison Gondal, Vivien Tang, Maryam T. Hussain, Anastasia Arvaniti, Anne-Marie Hewitt, Paul A. Foster

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Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) affects the incidence and potential progression of colorectal cancer (CRC). As HRT primarily consists of estrone sulfate (E1S), understanding whether this conjugated estrogen is transported and metabolized in CRC will define its potential effect in this malignancy. Here, we show that a panel of CRC cell lines (Colo205, Caco2, HCT116, HT-29) have steroid sulfatase (STS) activity, and thus can hydrolyze E1S. STS activity is significantly higher in CRC cell lysate, suggesting the importance of E1S transport in intracellular STS substrate availability. As E1S transport is regulated by the expression pattern of certain solute carrier organic anion transporter polypeptides, we show that in CRC OATP4A1 is the most abundantly expressed transporter. All four CRC cell lines rapidly transported E1S into cells, with this effect significantly inhibited by the competitive OATP inhibitor BSP. Transient knockdown of OATP4A1 significantly disrupted E1S uptake. Examination of estrogen receptor status showed ERα was present in Colo205 and Caco2 cells. None of the cells expressed ERβ. Intriguingly, HCT116 and HT29 cells strongly expressed the G protein coupled estrogen receptor (GPER), and that stimulation of this receptor with estradiol (E2) and G1, a GPER agonist, significantly (p < 0.01) increased STS activity. Furthermore, tamoxifen and fulvestrant, known GPER agonist, also increased CRC STS activity, with this effect inhibited by the GPER antagonist G15. These results suggest that CRC can take up and hydrolyze E1S, and that subsequent GPER stimulation increases STS activity in a potentially novel positive feedback loop. As elevated STS expression is associated with poor prognosis in CRC, these results suggest HRT, tamoxifen and fulvestrant may negatively impact CRC patient outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103
JournalFrontiers in Pharmacology
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2017


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