Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Estrogen regulation of TRPM8 expression in breast cancer cells

Dechen Chodon1, Arnaud Guilbert1, Isabelle Dhennin-Duthille1, Mathieu Gautier1, Marie-Sophie Telliez1, Henri Sevestre12 and Halima Ouadid-Ahidouch1*

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratoire de Physiologie Cellulaire et Moléculaire, JE "2530: Canaux ioniques dans le cancer du sein", Faculté des Sciences, Université Picardie Jules Vernes, 33 rue Saint Leu, 80000, Amiens, France

2 Service d'Anatomie Pathologique, CHU Nord, Amiens, France

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BMC Cancer 2010, 10:212  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-10-212

Published: 19 May 2010



The calcium-permeable cation channel TRPM8 (melastatin-related transient receptor potential member 8) is over-expressed in several cancers. The present study aimed at investigating the expression, function and potential regulation of TRPM8 channels by ER alpha (estrogen receptor alpha) in breast cancer.


RT-PCR, Western blot, immuno-histochemical, and siRNA techniques were used to investigate TRPM8 expression, its regulation by estrogen receptors, and its expression in breast tissue. To investigate the channel activity in MCF-7 cells, we used the whole cell patch clamp and the calcium imaging techniques.


TRPM8 channels are expressed at both mRNA and protein levels in the breast cancer cell line MCF-7. Bath application of the potent TRPM8 agonist Icilin (20 μM) induced a strong outwardly rectifying current at depolarizing potentials, which is associated with an elevation of cytosolic calcium concentration, consistent with established TRPM8 channel properties. RT-PCR experiments revealed a decrease in TRPM8 mRNA expression following steroid deprivation for 48 and 72 hours. In steroid deprived medium, addition of 17-beta-estradiol (E2, 10 nM) increased both TRPM8 mRNA expression and the number of cells which respond to Icilin, but failed to affect the Ca2+ entry amplitude. Moreover, silencing ERα mRNA expression with small interfering RNA reduced the expression of TRPM8. Immuno-histochemical examination of the expression of TRPM8 channels in human breast tissues revealed an over-expression of TRPM8 in breast adenocarcinomas, which is correlated with estrogen receptor positive (ER+) status of the tumours.


Taken together, these results show that TRPM8 channels are expressed and functional in breast cancer and that their expression is regulated by ER alpha.