Effects of oral administration of tamoxifen, toremifene, dehydroepiandrosterone, and vorozole on uterine histomorphology in the rat

Kenneth P. Nephew, Elizabeth Osborne, Ronald A. Lubet, Clinton J. Grubbs, Sohaib A. Khan

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24 Scopus citations


Tamoxifen, toremifene, DHEA, and vorozole inhibit tumor growth in rodent mammary carcinoma models and are promising chemotherapeutic agents for use against breast cancer development. In the present study, the effect of these agents on uterine histomorphology following oral administration to mature ovary-intact rats (n = 380) was examined. Animals received diet only (control), tamoxifen (0.4 and 1 mg/kg of diet; 10 mg/kg BW by daily gavage), toremifene (3-30 mg/kg of diet), DHEA (24-2000 mg/kg of diet), or vorozole (0.08-1.25 mg/kg BW by daily gavage) for 28 days and were either sacrificed or returned to a basal diet and then sacrificed 21 days later. Treatment with toremifene (all doses) or tamoxifen (1 and 10 mg/kg) for 28 days produced a decrease (P < 0.05) in overall uterine size and myometrial thickness; however, uterine luminal and glandular epithelia cell height increased (P < 0.05) compared with control. These compartmentalized uterotrophic and antiestrogenic effects of toremifene and tamoxifen were still apparent after 21 days post-treatment. Administration of DHEA (2000 mg/kg of diet) for 28 days had dramatic uterotrophic effects, increasing (P < 0.05) overall uterine size and stimulating all three uterine compartments (epithelia, stroma, and myometrium). The other doses of DHEA, however, were not uterotrophic. Interestingly, after removal of DHEA from the diet, uterine weight and myometrial thickness decreased (P < 0.05). Vorozole (1.25 mg/kg) administration for 28 days had differential, compartmentalized uterine effects, producing an increase (P < 0.05) in epithelial cell height, a decrease (P < 0.05) in stromal size, but no change in myometrial thickness. After 21 days postadministration of vorozole, luminal epithelial cell height was increased (P < 0.05) compared with control. The data suggest that oral administration of tamoxifen, toremifene, DHEA, and vorozole results in differential, compartmentalized effects in the uterus that are highly dependent on treatment dose. The data may have implications for risk assessment of these agents prior to administration to healthy, cancer-free women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)288-294
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

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