AIM To investigate gender-specific liver estrogen receptor (ER) expression in normal subjects and patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV)-related cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). METHODS Liver tissues from normal donors and patients diagnosed with HCV-related cirrhosis and HCV-related HCC were obtained from the NIH Liver Tissue and Cell Distribution System. The expression of ER subtypes, ERa and ERβ, were evaluated by Western blotting and real-time RT-PCR. The subcellular distribution of ERa and ERβ was further determined in nuclear and cytoplasmic tissue lysates along with the expression of inflammatory [activated NF-?B and I?B-kinase (IKK)] and oncogenic (cyclin D1) markers by Western blotting and immunohistochemistry. The expression of ERa and ERβ was correlated with the expression of activated NF-?B, activated IKK and cyclin D1 by Spearman's correlation. RESULTS Both ER subtypes were expressed in normal livers but male livers showed significantly higher expression of ERa than females (P < 0.05). We observed signifcantly higher mRNA expression of ERa in HCV-related HCC liver tissues as compared to normals (P < 0.05) and ERβ in livers of HCV-related cirrhosis and HCV-related HCC subjects (P < 0.05). At the protein level, there was a significantly higher expression of nuclear ERa in livers of HCV-related HCC patients and nuclear ERβ in HCV-related cirrhosis patients as compared to normals (P < 0.05). Furthermore, we observed a significantly higher expression of phosphorylated NF- ?B and cyclin D1 in diseased livers (P < 0.05). There was a positive correlation between the expression of nuclear ER subtypes and nuclear cyclin D1 and a negative correlation between cytoplasmic ER subtypes and cytoplasmic phosphorylated IKK in HCV-related HCC livers. These findings suggest that dysregulated expression of ER subtypes following chronic HCVinfection may contribute to the progression of HCVrelated cirrhosis to HCV-related HCC. CONCLUSION Gender differences were observed in ERa expression in normal livers. Alterations in ER subtype expression observed in diseased livers may influence genderrelated disparity in HCV-related pathogenesis.
- Estrogen receptor a
- Estrogen receptor β
- Hepatitis C virus-related cirrhosis
- Hepatitis C virusrelated hepatocellular carcinoma
- Normal liver
- Sex and gender