Influence of cellular ERα/ERβ ratio on the ERα-agonist induced proliferation of human T47D breast cancer cells

Ana M.Sotoca Covaleda, Hans Van den Berg, Jacques Vervoort, Paul Van der Saag, Anders Ström, Jan Åke Gustafsson, Ivonne Rietjens, Albertinka J. Murk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


Breast cancer cells show overexpression of estrogen receptor (ER) α relative to ERβ compared to normal breast tissues. This observation has lead to the hypothesis that ERβ may modulate the proliferative effect of ERα. This study investigated how variable cellular expression ratios of the ERα and ERβ modulate the effects on cell proliferation induced by ERα or ERβ agonists, respectively. Using human osteosarcoma (U2OS) ERα or ERβ reporter cells, propyl-pyrazole-triol (PPT) was shown to be a selective ERα and diarylpropionitrile (DPN) a preferential ERβ modulator. The effects of these selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) and of the model compound E2 on the proliferation of T47D human breast cancer cells with tetracycline-dependent expression of ERβ (T47D-ERβ) were characterized. E2-induced cell proliferation of cells in which ERβ expression was inhibited was similar to that of the T47D wild-type cells, whereas this E2-induced cell proliferation was no longer observed when ERβ expression in the T47D-ERβ cells was increased. In the T47D-ERβ cell line, DPN also appeared to be able to suppress cell proliferation when levels of ERβ expression were high. In the T47D-ERβ cell line, PPT was unable to suppress cell proliferation at all ratios of ERα/ERβ expression, reflecting its ability to activate only ERα and not ERβ. It is concluded that effects of estrogen-like compounds on cell proliferation are dependent on the actual ERα/ERβ expression levels in these cells or tissues and the potential of the estrogen agonists to activate ERα and/or ERβ.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)303-311
Number of pages9
JournalToxicological Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2008


  • Breast cancer cells
  • ER-U2OS-Luc
  • Estrogen receptors
  • Inducible
  • SERM
  • T47D-ERβ

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Medicine(all)


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