The hormone 17β-estradiol acts through its receptor system to induce MCF-7 human breast cancer cells to form tumors in athymic mice. In vitro studies have identified the production of estrogen-induced growth factors from MCF-7 cells that may have a role in growth control. These induced growth factors were sufficient to stimulate MCF-7 tumor growth in ovariectomized athymic mice, thus partially replacing estradiol. Growth factors may act as estrogen-induced 'second messengers' in estrogen-responsive growth of human breast cancer.
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