Carcinogenicity and metabolic activation of hexestrol.

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Liehr JG, Ballatore AM, Dague BB, Ulubelen AA

Carcinogenicity and metabolic activation of hexestrol.

Chem Biol Interact. 1985 Oct;55(1-2):157-76.

PubMed ID
2998630 [ View in PubMed

The carcinogenic activity of the synthetic estrogen hexestrol was measured in male Syrian hamsters. Between 90% and 100% of the animals treated with hexestrol or with 3',3",5',5"-tetradeuteriohexestrol, implanted subcutaneously as 25-mg pellets, were found with renal carcinoma after 6-7 months. In vitro hexestrol metabolism, mediated by phenobarbital-induced rat liver microsomes, led to the formation of 3'-hydroxyhexestrol. This metabolite was identified by comparison with authentic reference material synthesized by oxidation of hexestrol with Fremy's salt. Diethylstilbestrol could not be detected as a metabolite. In urine of male Syrian hamsters, 3'-hydroxyhexestrol, 3'-methoxyhexestrol, 1-hydroxyhexestrol, and other hydroxylated and/or methoxylated hexestrol metabolites were identified. Again, diethylstilbestrol was not detectable as a hexestrol metabolite in vivo. The reactivity of 3'-hydroxyhexestrol was then studied to determine if this catechol estrogen played a role in hexestrol carcinogenicity. Horseradish peroxidase catalyzed the oxidation of 3'-hydroxyhexestrol to 3',4'-hexestrol quinone. This oxidation reaction could also be carried out non-enzymatically using silver oxide or silver carbonate on celite as oxidants. The quinone was unstable (t1/2 in methylene chloride: 53 min). It reacted with sulfur-containing compounds such as mercaptoethanol by Michael addition to form 3'-(2-hydroxyethylthio)-5'-hydroxyhexestrol. 3',4'-Hexestrol quinone reacted with simple amines such as ethylamine to form N-ethyl-aminohexestrol. The chemical reactions described above were carried out to test the reactivity of identified or suspected metabolic intermediates of hexestrol. It was concluded that carcinogenicity of hexestrol was not based on its conversion to diethylstilbestrol. Rather, catechol estrogen formation may be necessary for the carcinogenic action of hexestrol in analogy to events observed earlier with estradiol.

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