Research Paper

Pharmaceutical Research

, Volume 25, Issue 11, pp 2516-2525

First online:

In Vitro Effects on MCF-7 Breast Cancer Cells Of Signal Transduction Inhibitor/Tamoxifen/Eicosapentaenoic Acid Combinations and their Simultaneous Delivery Across Skin

  • Zoë DavisonAffiliated withWelsh School of Pharmacy, Cardiff University
  • , Carol DutkowskiAffiliated withWelsh School of Pharmacy, Cardiff University
  • , Julia M. W. GeeAffiliated withWelsh School of Pharmacy, Cardiff University
  • , Robert I. NicholsonAffiliated withWelsh School of Pharmacy, Cardiff University
  • , Charles M. HeardAffiliated withWelsh School of Pharmacy, Cardiff University Email author 

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To determine the in vitro effects of simultaneously administered LY29400, PD98059, tamoxifen and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) on breast cancer cells, and determine their transcutaneous delivery.


Growth assays were performed on MCF-7 cells challenged with IC50 and permeated concentrations of PD98059, LY294002 and tamoxifen firstly in isolation then combined. Permeation studies were performed using PD98059 and LY294002 (singly or simultaneously) in DMSO then fish oil, with enhancers. Immunocytochemical detection of phospho-MAPK, phospho-Akt, total COX-2 and Ki-67 was performed.


When applied singly, fluxes of PD98059 and LY294002 were 0.09 ± 0.008 and 0.14 ± 0.045 μg cm−2 h−1, respectively; applied simultaneously, 0.18 ± 0.045 and 0.49 ± 0.051 μg cm−2 h−1. Permeated concentrations of PD98059 and LY294002 reduced growth to 13.78 ± 0.63%. Fish oil plus 2.5% DMSO/ethanol allowed 5.96 ± 0.9 and 7.7 ± 1.2 μg cm−2 of PD98059 and LY294002 to permeate after 48 h.


PD98059 and LY294002 permeate excised skin at therapeutically useful rates, and also demonstrate growth inhibitory effects on MCF-7 cancer cells. Synergism was noted in co-transport across skin and activity against cancer cells. A formulation based on fish oil is potentially skin friendly; simultaneous permeation of EPA provides further anti-cancer action.


breast cancer EPA signal transduction inhibitor tamoxifen transcutaneous delivery