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Steroid Hormones, Steroid Receptors, and Breast Cancer Stem Cells.

Abstract
The ovarian hormones progesterone and estrogen play important roles in breast cancer etiology, proliferation, and treatment. Androgens may also contribute to breast cancer risk and progression. In recent years, significant advances have been made in defining the roles of these steroid hormones in stem cell homeostasis in the breast. Stem cells are potential origins of breast cancer and may dictate tumor phenotype. At least a portion of breast cancers are proposed to be driven by cancer stem cells (CSCs), cells that mimic the self-renewing and repopulating properties of normal stem cells, and can confer drug resistance. Progesterone has been identified as the critical hormone regulating normal murine mammary stem cell (MaSC) populations and normal human breast stem cells. Synthetic progestins increase human breast cancer risk; one theory speculates that this occurs through increased stem cells. Progesterone treatment also increases breast CSCs in established breast cancer cell lines. This is mediated in part through progesterone regulation of transcription factors, signal transduction pathways, and microRNAs. There is also emerging evidence that estrogens and androgens can regulate breast CSC numbers. The evolving concept that a breast CSC phenotype is dynamic and can be influenced by cell signaling and external cues emphasizes that steroid hormones could be crucial players in controlling CSC number and function. Here we review recent studies on steroid hormone regulation of breast CSCs, and discuss mechanisms by which this occurs.
AuthorsJessica Finlay-Schultz, Carol A Sartorius
JournalJournal of mammary gland biology and neoplasia (J Mammary Gland Biol Neoplasia) Vol. 20 Issue 1-2 Pg. 39-50 (Jun 2015) ISSN: 1573-7039 [Electronic] United States
PMID26265122 (Publication Type: Journal Article)

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