MCF7 cells are reported to form tumors in Nude mice in an estrogen-dependent manner (Osborne et al., 1985)
Endocrine therapy with estrogen deprivation or with antiestrogens results in tumor regression in a subset of patients with advanced breast cancer. To better understand the mechanisms by which estrogens and antiestrogens modulate breast cancer growth in vivo, we have studied the effects of endocrine manipulation on the development and growth of tumors derived from cultured human breast cancer cells in the athymic nude mouse. MCF-7 breast cancer cells were inoculated into 6-week-old female BALB/c athymic nude mice. Tumor growth did not occur in ovariectomized mice. Cells remained viable, however, since estrogen supplementation more than 30 days later resulted in tumor formation. Minimal tumor growth was observed in intact female nude mice which have low circulating estrogen levels. Tumor development and growth in ovariectomized or intact mice supplemented with 17 beta-estradiol in the form of a s.c. pellet were dose dependent; growth rates increased with estrogen doses ranging from 0.01 to 0.5 mg. Antiestrogen treatment with either tamoxifen or LY156758 caused transient stimulation of tumor growth, followed by a prolonged stationary phase. Growth resumed with estrogen supplementation. Treatment of mice bearing established MCF-7 tumors with estrogen withdrawal (removal of estrogen pellet) resulted in cessation of tumor growth, but not in tumor regression. Growth inhibition was also observed with antiestrogens and was dose dependent. However, tumor regression did not occur, even in mice treated with high doses of tamoxifen (serum concentration of 1.0 microM) for as long as 60 days. Tumor growth was restored in these mice with estrogen replenishment. Tumor cells also remained viable histologically despite prolonged (1 month) estrogen deprivation or antiestrogen therapy, although the mitotic index was markedly reduced. Similar observations were made with mice inoculated with the hormone-responsive ZR75-1 human breast cancer cells, but not with hormone-independent MDA-231 cells which were not influenced by estrogen or antiestrogen treatment. In summary, development and growth of MCF-7 and ZR75-1 tumors in nude mice are estrogen dependent. Endocrine therapy by estrogen deprivation or antiestrogen treatment inhibits tumor cell proliferation in nude mice, but does not cause tumor regression or loss of cell viability.