Steroid sulfatase: a pivotal player in estrogen synthesis and metabolism

Atul Purohit, L. W. Lawrence Woo, Barry V. L. Potter

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Steroid sulfatase plays a pivotal role in regulating the formation of biologically active steroids from inactive steroid sulfates. It is responsible for the hydrolysis of estrone sulfate and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate to estrone and dehydroepiandrosterone, respectively, both of which can be subsequently reduced to steroids with estrogenic properties (i.e. estradiol and androstenediol) that can stimulate the growth of tumors in hormone-responsive tissues of the breast, endometrium and prostate. Hence, the action of steroid sulfatase is implicated in physiological processes and pathological conditions. It has been five years since our group last reviewed the important role of this enzyme in steroid synthesis and the progress made in the development of potent inhibitors of this important enzyme target. This timely review therefore concentrates on recent advances in steroid sulfatase research, and summarises the findings of clinical trials with Irosustat (BN83495), the only steroid sulfatase inhibitor that is being trialed in postmenopausal women with breast or endometrial cancer.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154-160
JournalMolecular and Cellular Endocrinology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2011


  • breast cancer
  • irosustat
  • steroid sulfatase inhibitors
  • androstenediol
  • BN83495
  • estrogens


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