Recent evidence indicates that autocrine/paracrine mechanisms may mediate the mitogenic effect of estradiol (E2) both in human and experimental breast cancer. However, the species-specificity of E2-regulated growth factors with regard to their biologic action has not been evaluated. To test this issue, we examined, in the soft agar clonogenic assay, the colony-stimulating activity in human breast cancers of conditioned media obtained from rat mammary carcinomas exposed to E2 (rat E2-CM). Of 22 primary human breast cancers plated in soft agar in the absence of serum, 18 (82%) successfully grew with a mean colony number of 62.4 ± 9.8 (S.E.M.) (range 14-193). Rat E2-CM significantly stimulated colony formation in 10 18 (56%) human breast cancers to 155 ± 11% (S.E.M.) of control. E2 administration (10-9 M) in these tumors had a virtually identical overall effect (154 ± 13% of control colony number). In the remaining eight tumors (44%), neither rat E2-CM nor E2 had, in general, a significant colony-stimulating effect. The growth-promoting action of rat E2-CM and E2 was not influenced by the hormone receptor status of the tumor. These results suggest that E2-regulated growth factors may not be species-specific, at least with regard to their colony-stimulating effects in soft agar.
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