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Endocr Relat Cancer. 2014 May 6;21(3):R165-82. doi: 10.1530/ERC-13-0283. Print 2014 Jun.

Androgen receptor roles in hepatocellular carcinoma, fatty liver, cirrhosis and hepatitis.

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  • 1Sex Hormone Research Center, Department of Gastroenterology, Graduate Institute of Clinical Medical Science, China Medical University/Hospital, Taichung 404, Taiwan, Republic of China George Whipple Lab for Cancer Research, Departments of Pathology and Urology, and The Wilmot Cancer Center, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, New York 14642, USA Chawnshang Chang Liver Cancer Center, Department of General Surgery, Sir Run-Run Shaw Hospital, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China.


Androgen/androgen receptor (AR) signaling plays important roles in normal liver function and in progression of liver diseases. In studies of noncancerous liver diseases, AR knockout mouse models of liver disease have revealed that androgen/AR signaling suppresses the development of steatosis, virus-related hepatitis, and cirrhosis. In addition, studies have shown that targeting AR in bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (BM-MSCs) improves their self-renewal and migration potentials, thereby increasing the efficacy of BM-MSC transplantation as a way to control the progression of cirrhosis. Androgen/AR signaling is known to be involved in the initiation of carcinogen- or hepatitis B virus-related hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, studies have demonstrated that AR, rather than androgen, plays the dominant role in cancer initiation. Therefore, targeting AR might be an appropriate therapy for patients with early-stage HCC. In contrast, androgen/AR signaling has been shown to suppress metastasis of HCC in patients with late-stage disease. In addition, there is evidence that therapy comprising Sorafenib and agents that enhance the functional expression of AR may suppress the progression of late-stage HCC.


androgen receptor (AR); hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC)

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