Effect of combined treatment with progesterone and tamoxifen on the growth and apoptosis of human ovarian cancer cells.
ABSTRACT Progesterone has a potential protective effect against ovarian carcinoma induced by estrogen. Progesterone is also known to cause apoptosis while tamoxifen induces growth arrest. Therefore, we attempted to determine whether combined treatment with progesterone and tamoxifen has a synergistic effect on anti-cancer activity. Although progesterone is known to cause apoptosis while tamoxifen induces growth arrest in many cancer cells, the detailed action of progesterone and tamoxifen and the anticancer effect of combined treatment have not been tested in ovarian cancer cells. Therefore, we tested the growth and apoptosis activity of progesterone and tamoxifen and the anticancer effect of combined treatment of progesterone and tamoxifen in ovarian cancer cells. Ovarian cancer cells, PA-1, were treated with progesterone, tamoxifen, or a combination of progesterone and tamoxifen. The anti-cancer effects were investigated by use of flow cytometry, terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) assay, DNA fragmentation analysis, and Western blot analysis. We found that 100 µM progesterone induced typical apoptosis in PA-1 cells. Treatment of PA-1 cells with 10 µM tamoxifen resulted in an increase in the levels of p21, p27, p16 and phospho-pRb, indicating typical G1 arrest. Co-treatment of PA-1 cells with 100 µM progesterone and 10 µM tamoxifen resulted in typical apoptosis, similar to that induced by treatment with 100 µM progesterone alone. These results indicate that progesterone caused apoptosis and tamoxifen induced G1 arrest. Combined treatment with tamoxifen and progesterone caused apoptosis similar to that induced by treatment with progesterone alone and had no additional anti-cancer effect in ovarian cancer cells.