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Cancer Res. 2009 Jun 1;69(11):4598-604. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-08-4523.

Estrogen receptor-beta affects the prognosis of human malignant mesothelioma.

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  • 1Dipartimento di Scienze Chimiche, Alimentari, Farmaceutiche e Farmacologiche and Drug and Food Biotechnology Center, University of Piemonte Orientale A. Avogadro, Novara, Italy.


Malignant pleural mesothelioma is an asbestos-related neoplasm with poor prognosis, refractory to current therapies, the incidence of which is expected to increase in the next decades. Female gender was identified as a positive prognostic factor among other clinical and biological prognostic markers for malignant mesothelioma, yet a role of estrogen receptors (ERs) has not been studied. Our goal was to investigate ERs expression in malignant mesothelioma and to assess whether their expression correlates with prognosis. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed intense nuclear ERbeta staining in normal pleura that was reduced in tumor tissues. Conversely, neither tumors nor normal pleura stained positive for ERalpha. Multivariate analysis of 78 malignant mesothelioma patients with pathologic stage, histologic type, therapy, sex, and age at diagnosis indicated that ERbeta expression is an independent prognostic factor of better survival. Moreover, studies in vitro confirmed that treatment with 17beta-estradiol led to an ERbeta-mediated inhibition of malignant mesothelioma cell proliferation as well as p21(CIP1) and p27(KIP1) up-regulation. Consistently cell growth was suppressed by ERbeta overexpression, causing a G(2)-M-phase cell cycle arrest, paralleled by cyclin B1 and survivin down-regulation. Our data support the notion that ERbeta acting as a tumor suppressor is of high potential relevance to prediction of disease progression and to therapeutic response of malignant mesothelioma patients.

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