Effects of Neonicotinoid Pesticides on Promoter-Specific Aromatase (CYP19) Expression in Hs578t Breast Cancer Cells and the Role of the VEGF Pathway

Aromatase (CYP19) is a key enzyme in oestrogens biosynthesis. In the mammary gland, CYP19 gene is expressed at low levels under the regulation of its I.4 promoter. In hormone-dependent breast cancer, fibroblast cells surrounding the tumour express increased levels of CYP19 mRNA due to a decrease of I.4 promoter activity and an increase of PII, I.3, and I.7 promoter activity. Little is known about the effects of environmental chemicals on the promoter-specific CYP19 expression. In this study, the authors aimed to determine the effects of two neonicotinoids (thiacloprid and imidacloprid) on promoter-specific CYP19 expression in Hs578t breast cancer cells and understand the signalling pathways involved. Hs578t cells were exposed to various signalling pathway stimulants or neonicotinoids for 24 h. Promoter-specific expression of CYP19 was determined by real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction and catalytic activity of aromatase by tritiated water release assay. To the authors knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate that the normal I.4 promoter and the breast cancer-relevant PII, I.3, and I.7 promoters of CYP19 are active in these cells. It was found that the expression of CYP19 via promoters PII, I.3, and I.7 in Hs578t cells was, in part, dependent on the activation of two VEGF signalling pathways: mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) 1/3 and phospholipase C (PLC). Exposure of Hs578t cells to environmental concentrations of imidacloprid and thiacloprid resulted in a switch in CYP19 promoter usage, involving inhibition of I.4 promoter activity and an increase of PII, I.3, and I.7 promoter-mediated CYP19 expression and aromatase catalytic activity. Greater effects were seen at lower concentrations. The authors concluded that the findings suggest that thiacloprid and imidacloprid exert their effects at least partially by inducing the MAPK 1/3 and/or PLC pathways. The authors demonstrated in vitro that neonicotinoids may stimulate a change in CYP19 promoter usage similar to that observed in patients with hormone-dependent breast cancer.

Authors: Caron-Beaudoin É, Viau R, Sanderson JT. ; Full Source: Environmental Health Perspectives. 2018 Apr 26;126(4):047014. doi: 10.1289/EHP2698.

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