Hormones and their receptors play an important role in the development and progression of breast cancer. Hormones regulate the proliferation of breast cancer cells through binding between estrogen or progestins and steroid receptors that may reside in the cytoplasm or be transcriptionally activated as steroid–protein nuclear receptor complexes. However, receptors for nonpeptide hormones also exist in the plasma membrane. Via those receptors, hormones are able to stimulate breast cancer cell proliferation when activated. Integrins are heterodimeric structural proteins of the plasma membrane. Their primary functions are to interact with extracellular matrix proteins and growth factors. Recently, integrin αvβ3 has been identified as a receptor for nonpeptide hormones, such as thyroid hormone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT promotes the proliferation of human breast cancer cells through binding to integrin αvβ3. A receptor for resveratrol, a polyphenol stilbene, also exists on this integrin in breast cancer cells, mediating the anti-proliferative, pro-apoptotic action of the compound in these cells. Unrelated activities of DHT and resveratrol that originate at integrin depend upon downstream stimulation of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK, ERK1/2) activity, suggesting the existence of distinct, function-specific pools of ERK1/2 within the cell. This review will discuss the features of these receptors in breast cancer cells, in turn suggesting clinical applications that are based on the interactions of resveratrol/DHT with integrin αvβ3 and other androgen receptors.
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