Analysis of potential biomarkers of estrogen-initiated cancer in the urine of Syrian golden hamsters treated with 4-hydroxyestradiol

Rosa Todorovic, Prabu Devanesan, Sheila Higginbotham, John Zhao, Michael L. Gross, Eleanor G. Rogan, Ercole L. Cavalieri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Estrone (E1) and 17β-estradiol (E2) are metabolized to catechol estrogens (CE), which may be oxidized to semiquinones and quinones (CE-Q). CE-Q can react with glutathione (GSH) and DNA, or be reduced to CE. In particular, CE-3,4-Q react with DNA to form depurinating adducts (N7Gua and N3Ade), which are cleaved from DNA to leave behind apurinic sites. We report the determination of 22 estrogen metabolites, conjugates and adducts in the urine of male Syrian golden hamsters treated with 4-hydroxyestradiol (4-OHE2). After initial purification, urine samples were analyzed by HPLC with multichannel electrochemical detection and by capillary HPLC/tandem mass spectrometry. 4-Hydroxyestrogen-2-cysteine [4-OHE1(E2)-2-Cys] and N-acetylcysteine [4-OHE1(E2)-2-NAcCys] conjugates, as well as the methoxy CE, were identified and quantified by HPLC, whereas the 4-OHE1(E2)-1-N7 Gua depurinating adducts and 4-OHE1(E2)-2-SG conjugates could only be identified by the mass spectrometry method. Most of the administered 4-OHE2 was metabolically converted to 4-OHE1. Formation of thioether (GSH, Cys and NAcCys) conjugates and depurinating adducts [4-OHE1(E2)-1-N7Gua] indicates that oxidation of 4-CE to CE-3,4-Q and subsequent reaction with GSH and DNA, respectively, do occur. The major conjugates in the urine were 4-OHE1(E2)-2-NAcCys. The oxidative pathway of 4-OHE1(E2) accounted for approximately twice the level of products compared with those from the methylation pathway. The metabolites and methoxy CE were excreted predominantly (>90%) as glucuronides, whereas the thioether conjugates were not further conjugated. These results provide strong evidence that exposure to 4-OHE1(E2) leads to the formation of E1(E2)-3,4-Q and, subsequently, depurinating DNA adducts. This process is a putative tumor initiating event. The estrogen metabolites, conjugates and adducts can be used as biomarkers for detecting enzymatic oxidation of estrogens to reactive electrophilic metabolites and possible susceptibility to estrogen-induced cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)905-911
Number of pages7
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research

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