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Increased estrogen receptor betacx expression during mammary carcinogenesis

Posted by on in 2005
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 Esslimani-Sahla M, Kramar A, Simony-Lafontaine J, Warner M, Gustafsson JA, Rochefort H.
Clin Cancer Res. 2005 May 1;11(9):3170-4.
Endocrinologie moleculaire et cellulaire des cancers (U540), Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale, Montpellier, France.


Identification of proteins that markedly vary during early steps of mammary carcinogenesis may help to understand its pathophysiology and to develop a prevention strategy.

The expression of total estrogen receptor beta (ERbeta) protein and of its COOH-terminally spliced variant ERbetacx (or ERbeta2) was compared in 43 invasive breast cancers and in 39 adjacent normal mammary glands and 26 ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). Thirty-six breast cancers were ER positive by radioligand binding assay. The analysis was done by immunohistochemistry on adjacent sections of formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tumors using polyclonal anti-ERbeta 503 IgY and sheep polyclonal ERbetacx antibodies that were previously validated.

Nuclear staining was quantified using a computerized image analyzer in selected areas of normal and cancer epithelial cells. Total ERbeta expression was high in normal glands, decreased in DCIS (P = 0.0004), and increased from DCIS to invasive tumors (P = 0.029). In contrast, the ERbetacx expression was low in normal glands, increased significantly in DCIS (P = 0.0014), and continued to increase in invasive carcinomas (P = 0.0027) in both ERalpha-positive and ERalpha-negative tumors.

This is the first study showing a significant increase of the ERbetacx variant protein in DCIS and invasive breast cancer compared with adjacent normal glands. This contrasts with the decrease of the total ERbeta level in the same patients and indicates different mechanisms to explain these variations during mammary carcinogenesis. It also suggests a role of the ERbetacx variant in carcinogenesis opposite to the protective effect of the wild-type ERbeta1.

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