2-methoxyestradiol, a promising anticancer agent

Nehal J. Lakhani, Mohamadi A. Sarkar, Jurgen Venitz, William D. Figg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

260 Scopus citations


Estrogens occurring naturally in the body are metabolized to catecholestrogens (2- and 4-hydroxyestradiol) by the cytochrome P450 enzymes. 2-Hydroxy catecholestrogens are further metabolized by catechol-o-methyltransferase to 2-methoxyestradiol, which is known to be protective against tumor formation. 2-Methoxyestradiol exhibits potent apoptotic activity against rapidly growing tumor cells. It also possesses antiangiogenic activity through a direct apoptotic effect on endothelial cells. Other molecular mechanisms, including microtubule stabilization by inhibition of the colchicine-binding site, have been reported. The exact mechanism of action of 2-methoxyestradiol is still unclear, but it has been shown to be effective in preventing tumor growth in a variety of cell lines. 2-Methoxyestradiol also possesses cardioprotective activity by inhibiting vascular smooth muscle cell growth in arteries. It has a lower binding affinity for estrogen receptor α compared with that of estradiol, and its affinity for estrogen receptor β is even lower than that of estrogen receptor α, thus it has minimal estrogenic activity. 2-Methoxyestradiol is distinct because of its inability to engage estrogen receptors as an agonist, and its unique antiproliferative and apoptotic activities are mediated independently of estrogen receptors α and β. A phase I clinical trial of 2-methoxyestradiol 200, 400, 600, 800, and 1000 mg/day in 15 patients with breast cancer showed significant reduction in bone pain and analgesic intake in some patients, with no significant adverse effects. Another phase I study of 2-methoxyestradiol 200-1000 mg/day in combination with docetaxel 35 mg/m2/week for 4-6 weeks performed in 15 patients with advanced refractory metastatic breast cancer showed no serious drug-related adverse effects. A phase II randomized, double-blind trial of 2-methoxyestradiol 400 and 1200 mg/day in 33 patients with hormone-refractory prostate cancer showed that it was well tolerated and showed prostate specific antigen stabilizations and declines. We have started a phase I clinical trial to explore dosages greater than 1000 mg/day.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-172
Number of pages8
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2003
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of '2-methoxyestradiol, a promising anticancer agent'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this