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Definition of Aromatase

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Aromatase: An enzyme involved in the production of estrogen that acts by catalyzing the conversion of testosterone (an androgen) to estradiol (an estrogen). Aromatase is located in estrogen-producing cells in the adrenal glands, ovaries, placenta, testicles, adipose (fat) tissue, and brain.

The growth of some breast cancers is promoted by estrogens. For example, the drug letrozole (brand name: Femara) is an antiestrogen sometimes used to treat such estrogen-dependent tumors. The drug acts by inhibiting the enzyme aromatase which lowers the level of the estrogen, estradiol.

Reviewed on 12/11/2018

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