Antitumor activity of the antiprogestins ZK 98.299 and RU 38.486 in hormone dependent rat and mouse mammary tumors: Mechanistic studies

Horst Michna, Martin R. Schneider, Yukishige Nishino, M. Fathy El Etreby

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In the transplantable MXT mammary tumor model of the mouse and in the DMBA- and MNU-induced mammary tumor models of the rat, the progesterone antagonists ZK 98.299 and RU 38.468 were shown to have potent antitumor activity. The weight and/or morphology of the ovaries, uterus, and vagina, as well as the effects on serum hormone levels, indicate that the antitumor activity of both antiprogesterones in these models does not depend on a blockade of the ovarian and pituitary functions and does not depend on a non receptor-mediated cytotoxic effect. On the other hand, the morpholoy of the MXT and the DMBA-induced mammary tumors after treatment with the progesterone antagonists is completely different from that observed after ovariectomy. Treatment with the antiprogesterones seems to trigger differentiation of the mitotically active polygonal tumor cells towards glandular structures and acini with a massive sequestering of secretory products, as well as towards spindle-shaped necrobiotic subpopulations. By contrast, the induction of tumor cell degeneration and cytolysis is the predominant feature of the mammary tumors after ovariectomy. In conclusion, our results indicate that the main mechanism of the antitumor action of antiprogesterones in these models is a direct progesterone receptor-mediated antiproliferative effect at the level of the mammary tumor cells, most probably via the induction of terminal differentiation associated with terminal cell death. This antiproliferative effect seems to be dissociated from the antihormone (antiprogestational) activity of these progesterone antagonists.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-288
Number of pages14
JournalBreast Cancer Research and Treatment
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1989
Externally publishedYes


  • antiprogesterones
  • breast cancer
  • differentiation
  • mice
  • rats
  • tumor models


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