A mechanism of drug resistance to tamoxifen in breast cancer

Jennifer Mac Gregor Schafer, David J. Bentrem, Hiroyuki Takei, Csaba Gajdos, Sunil Badve, V. Craig Jordan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Drug resistance to tamoxifen (Tam) is a significant clinical problem but the mechanism through which this occurs remains elusive. We have developed a number of xenograft models of Tam-stimulated growth that model breast cancer progression using estrogen receptor positive MCF-7 or T47D breast cancer cells. When estrogen-stimulated T47D:E2 tumors are treated long term with Tam, Tam-stimulated tumors develop (T47D:Tam) that are stimulated by both estrogen and Tam. When HER-2/neu status is determined, it is clear that the T47D:Tam tumors express significantly higher levels of HER-2/neu protein by immunohistochemistry and mRNA as measured by real-time RT-PCR. The T47D:Tam tumors also express higher levels of estrogen receptor and progesterone receptor protein than their estrogen-stimulated T47D:E2 counterparts. We compared out results to the MCF-7 model of Tam-stimulated growth. The MCF-7:Tam ST (estrogen- and Tam-stimulated) and MCF-7:Tam LT (estrogen-inhibited, Tam-stimulated) were bilaterally transplanted to account for any mouse to mouse variation and characteristic growth patterns were observed. TUNEL staining was performed on MCF-7:Tam LT treated with either estrogen or Tam and it was concluded that estrogen-inhibited tumor growth was a result of increased apoptosis. Three phases of tumor progression are described that involve increases in HER-2/neu expression, de-regulation of estrogen receptor expression and increases in apoptosis which in concert determine the phenotype of drug resistance to Tam.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-83
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Issue number1-5
StatePublished - Dec 2002


  • Antiestrogen
  • Breast cancer
  • Drug resistance
  • Estrogen receptor
  • HER-2/neu

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology

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