Pigment epithelium-derived factor alleviates tamoxifen-induced endometrial hyperplasia

Keren Goldberg, Hadas Bar-Joseph, Hadas Grossman, Noa Hasky, Shiri Uri-Belapolsky, Salomon M. Stemmer, Dana Chuderland, Ruth Shalgi, Irit Ben-Aharon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Tamoxifen is a cornerstone component of adjuvant endocrine therapy for patients with hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. Its significant adverse effects include uterine hyperplasia, polyps, and increased risk of endometrial cancer. However, the underlying molecular mechanism remains unclear. Excessive angiogenesis, a hallmark of tumorigenesis, is a result of disrupted balance between pro- and anti-angiogenic factors. VEGF is a proangiogenic factor shown to be elevated by tamoxifen in the uterus. Pigment epithelium-derived factor (PEDF) is a potent anti-angiogenic factor that suppresses strong pro-angiogenic factors, such as VEGF. Our aim was to investigate whether angiogenic balance plays a role in tamoxifen-induced uterine pathologies, elucidate the molecular impairment in that network, and explore potential intervention to offset the proposed imbalance elicited by tamoxifen. Using in vivo mouse models, we demonstrated that tamoxifen induced a dose-dependent shift in endogenous uterine angiogenic balance favoring VEGF over PEDF. Treatment with recombinant PEDF (rPEDF) abrogated tamoxifen-induced uterine hyperplasia and VEGF elevation, resulting in reduction of blood vessels density. Exploring the molecular mechanism revealed that tamoxifen promoted survival and malignant transformation pathways, whereas rPEDF treatment prevents these changes. Activation of survival pathways was decreased, demonstrated by reduction in AKT phosphorylation concomitant with elevation in JNK phosphorylation. Estrogen receptor-a and c-Myc oncoprotein levels were reduced. Our findings provide novel insight into the molecular mechanisms tamoxifen induces in the uterus, which may become the precursor events of subsequent endometrial hyperplasia and cancer. We demonstrate that rPEDF may serve as a useful intervention to alleviate the risk of tamoxifeninduced endometrial pathologies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2840-2849
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular Cancer Therapeutics
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2015


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