Second Department of Surgery, Gunma University School of Medicine, Maebashi, Japan.
OK-432 (picibanil), a streptococcal preparation, has a strong biological response modifier (BRM) function and is expected to produce clinical improvement and prolongation of survival in treated cancer patients in Japan. We were interested in whether OK-432 augments estrogen receptor (ER) levels in breast cancer. To investigate the effect of the BRMs on cellular growth and the characteristics of ER and progesterone receptors (PgR) in the human breast cancer cell line MCF-7, we used OK-432, Krestin (PSK), a protein-bound polysaccharide extracted from Coriolus versicolor, and lentinan, a fungal branched (1…3)-beta-D-glycan. OK432 and PSK dose dependently inhibited DNA synthesis of MCF-7 cells, and the 50% inhibitory concentrations of OK-432 and PSK were 1.2 KE (klinische Einheit, clinical unit)/ml and 200 micrograms/ml, respectively. Lentinan showed no direct anticancer effect in vitro. We found that OK-432 induced a 2-fold increase in ER levels in MCF-7 cells at 0.005 KE/ml, but not in PgR. Lentinan and low-dose PSK did not change ER or PgR levels, but high-dose PSK decreased ER and PgR. We also studied the combined effect of OK-432 and antiestrogens, tamoxifen (TAM) and DP-TAT-59. The combined treatment with OK-432 and TAM showed an additive inhibitory effect on MCF-7 cells. These results suggest that OK-432 may augment the therapeutic effect of TAM in breast cancer.