Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Raloxifene inhibits tumor growth and lymph node metastasis in a xenograft model of metastatic mammary cancer

Masa-Aki Shibata1*, Junji Morimoto2, Eiko Shibata16, Hitomi Kurose1, Kanako Akamatsu3, Zhong-Lian Li1, Moriaki Kusakabe4, Masahide Ohmichi5 and Yoshinori Otsuki1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Division of Life Sciences, Osaka Medical College, 2-7 Daigaku-machi, Takatsuki, Osaka 569-8686, Japan

2 Laboratory Animal Center, Osaka Medical College, 2-7 Daigaku-machi, Takatsuki, Osaka 569-8686, Japan

3 Department of Systems Bioscience for Drug Discovery, Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan

4 Research Center for Food Safety, University of Tokyo Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Tokyo, Japan

5 Department of Gynecology, Osaka Medical College, 2-7 Daigaku-machi, Takatsuki, Osaka 569-8686, Japan

6 Department of Bioscience, National Cardiovascular Center Research Institute, Suita, Osaka, Japan

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BMC Cancer 2010, 10:566  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-10-566

Published: 19 October 2010



The effects of raloxifene, a novel selective estrogen receptor modulator, were studied in a mouse metastatic mammary cancer model expressing cytoplasmic ERα.


Mammary tumors, induced by inoculation of syngeneic BALB/c mice with BJMC3879luc2 cells, were subsequently treated with raloxifene at 0, 18 and 27 mg/kg/day using mini-osmotic pumps.


In vitro study demonstrated that the ERα in BJMC3879luc2 cells was smaller (between 50 and 64 kDa) than the normal-sized ERα (66 kDa) and showed cytoplasmic localization. A statistically significant but weak estradiol response was observed in this cell line. When BJMC3879luc2 tumors were implanted into mice, the ERα mRNA levels were significantly higher in females than in males. In vitro studies showed that raloxifene induced mitochondria-mediated apoptosis and cell-cycle arrest in the G1-phase and a decrease in the cell population in the S-phase. In animal experiments, tumor volumes were significantly suppressed in the raloxifene-treated groups. The multiplicity of lymph node metastasis was significantly decreased in the 27 mg/kg group. Levels of apoptosis were significantly increased in the raloxifene-treated groups, whereas the levels of DNA synthesis were significantly decreased in these groups. No differences in microvessel density in tumors were observed between the control and raloxifene-treated groups. The numbers of dilated lymphatic vessels containing intraluminal tumor cells were significantly reduced in mammary tumors in the raloxifene-treated groups. The levels of ERα mRNA in mammary tumors tended to be decreased in the raloxifene-treated groups.


These results suggest that the antimetastatic activity of raloxifene in mammary cancer expressing cytoplasmic ERα may be a crucial finding with clinical applications and that raloxifene may be useful as an adjuvant therapy and for the chemoprevention of breast cancer development.