Medroxyprogesterone acetate elevation of Nm23-H1 metastasis suppressor expression in hormone receptor-negative breast cancer

Diane Palmiere, Douglas O. Halverson, Taoufik Ouatas, Christine E. Horak, Massimiliano Salerno, Jennifer Johnson, W. Douglas Figg, Melinda Hollingshead, Stephen Hursting, David Berrigan, Seth M. Steinberg, Maria J. Merino, Patricia S. Steeg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

111 Scopus citations


Background: Reestablishment of metastasis suppressor gene expression may constitute a therapeutic strategy for high-risk breast cancer patients. We previously showed that medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA), a progestin that has been tested as treatment for advanced breast cancer, elevates expression of the Nm23-H1 metastasis suppressor gene in hormone receptor-negative metastatic human breast carcinoma cell lines in vitro via a glucocorticoid receptor-based mechanism. Here, we tested whether MPA treatment inhibits metastatic colonization of a hormone receptor-negative breast cancer cell line in vivo. Methods: We tested the soft-agar colony-forming efficiency of untransfected MDA-MB-231T human breast carcinoma cells and MDA-MB-231T cells transfected with antisense Nm23-H1 in the presence and absence of MPA. Pharmacokinetic studies were used to establish dose and injection schedules that led to MPA serum levels in mice similar to those achievable in humans. For in vivo studies, nude mice were injected intravenously with MDA-MB-231T cells. After 4 weeks, mice were randomized to control or MPA arms. Endpoints included incidence, number, and size of gross pulmonary metastases; Nm23-H1 protein expression in gross metastases; and side effects. All statistical tests were two-sided. Results: MPA reduced colony formation of MDA-MB-231T cells by 40%-50% but had no effect on colony formation of Nm23-H1 antisense transfectants. Metastases developed in 100% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 78% to 100% and 77% to 100%, respectively) of control mice injected with MDA-MB-231T cells. In two independent experiments, only 73% (95% CI = 45% to 92%) and 64% (95% CI = 35% to 87%) of mice injected with 2 mg of MPA developed metastases. Mice injected with 2 mg of MPA showed reductions in the mean numbers, per mouse, of all metastases and of large (>3 mm) metastases (P = .04 and .013, respectively). Nm23-H1 was expressed at high levels in 43% of pulmonary metastases in MPA-treated mice but only 13% of metastases in untreated mice. Mice receiving at least 1-mg doses of MPA gained more weight than control-treated mice but exhibited no bone density alterations or abnormal mammary fat pad histology. Conclusion: Our preclinical results show that MPA appears to elevate Nm23-H1 metastasis suppressor gene expression, thereby reducing metastatic colonization. The data suggest a new use for an old agent in a molecularly defined subset of breast cancer patient.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)632-642
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the National Cancer Institute
Issue number9
StatePublished - 4 May 2005
Externally publishedYes


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