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Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2009 Jun 3;7:56. doi: 10.1186/1477-7827-7-56.

Identification of ERbeta1 and ERbeta2 in human seminoma, in embryonal carcinoma and in their adjacent intratubular germ cell neoplasia.

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Department of Cell Biology, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Calabria, Cosenza, Italy.



Estrogens exert a role on germ cell physiology of normal human testis through the mediation of the estrogen receptor (ER) beta subtypes. Epidemiological studies evidenced an increased incidence of testicular germ cell cancer after elevated pre-natal estrogen exposure but the expression of estrogen receptors in these testicular neoplasms has not been well elucidated.


Immunohistochemistry and Western blot analysis were used to investigate the expression of three distinct ER isoforms, ERalpha, ERbeta1, and ERbeta2 in paraffin-embedded tissues from seminomas and embryonal carcinomas, which are the most common testicular germ cell tumours.


Neoplastic cells of all specimens revealed a positive ERbeta1 and ERbeta2 immunoreactivity, while the ERalpha signal was undetectable. A similar pattern of estrogen receptor immunostaining was also observed in the malignant germ cells of intratubular germ cell neoplasia, adjacent to testicular cancers. Western blot analysis of tumour extracts revealed two immunoreactive bands, a 59 kDa band for ERbeta1 and a 53 kDa band for ERbeta2.


A variable ERbeta expression was previously reported in testicular germ cell tumours and, particularly, an ERbeta down-regulation was evidenced in seminoma and embryonal carcinoma. Conversely, the current study has clearly identified ERbeta1 and ERbeta2 in the neoplastic cells of seminoma and embryonal carcinoma, as well as in the malignant cells of their common pre-invasive precursor, intratubular germ cell neoplasia. Therefore, our findings suggest that ERbeta1, together with a possible ERbeta2 contribute, can mediate estrogen action in both early and late neoplastic testicular germ cells, not confirming the previously hypothesized antiproliferative effect of ERbeta on male gonadal cells.

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