Baumgart J, Nilsson K, Stavreus Evers A, Kunovac Kallak T, Kushnir MM, Bergquist J, Sundström Poromaa I
Climacteric 17 (1) 48-54 [2014-02-00; online 2013-06-28]
To investigate plasma steroid hormone levels in postmenopausal breast cancer patients with and without adjuvant endocrine therapy and in healthy postmenopausal women. Steroid hormone levels in postmenopausal breast cancer patients treated with aromatase inhibitors (n = 32) were compared with breast cancer patients treated with tamoxifen (n = 34), breast cancer patients without adjuvant endocrine therapy (n = 15), and healthy postmenopausal women (n = 56). Pregnenolone, 17-hydroxypregnenolone, 17-hydroxyprogesterone, 11-deoxycortisol, cortisol, cortisone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), androstenedione, total testosterone, dihydrotestosterone, estrone and estradiol were measured using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. Sex hormone binding globulin was measured by solid-phase chemiluminescent immunometric assays, and the free androgen index was calculated. Aromatase inhibitor users did not differ in dihydrotestosterone, total testosterone, androstenedione, DHEA, or free androgen index levels from healthy controls or untreated breast cancer patients. The highest total testosterone levels were found in tamoxifen-treated women, who had significantly higher plasma concentrations than both women treated with aromatase inhibitors and breast cancer patients without adjuvant treatment. Concentrations of cortisol and cortisone were significantly greater in aromatase inhibitor users as well as tamoxifen users, in comparison with healthy controls and untreated breast cancer patients. Aromatase inhibitor users had lower estrone and estradiol plasma concentrations than all other groups. Adjuvant treatment with aromatase inhibitors or tamoxifen was associated with increased cortisol and cortisone plasma concentrations as well as decreased estradiol concentrations. Androgen levels were elevated in tamoxifen-treated women but not in aromatase inhibitor users.