Estrogen receptor beta in breast cancer-Diagnostic and therapeutic implications

Johan Hartman, Anders Ström, Jan Åke Gustafsson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


More than 10 years have passed since the discovery of the second estrogen receptor, estrogen receptor β (ERβ). It is now evident that ERα is not the only ER in breast cancer cells; in fact, ERβ is expressed in the majority of breast cancers although at lower levels than in the normal breast. In addition, ERβ is expressed in breast cancer infiltrating lymphocytes, fibroblasts and endothelial cells, all known to influence tumor growth. By overexpressing or knocking-out ERβ in breast cancer cell lines, several researchers have investigated its function with respect to proliferation and tumor growth. It appears that ERβ is anti-proliferative, in many ways antagonising the function of ERα. Furthermore, phytoestrogens have a binding-preference for ERβ and several epidemiological studies indicate a breast cancer preventing effect of this class of compounds. Tamoxifen is one of the standard, adjuvant treatments for ERα positive breast cancer, classically thought to mediate its effect through ERα. However, in several recent studies, ERβ has been described as a potential marker for tamoxifen response. In summary, experimental, epidemiological as well as diagnostic studies point towards ERβ as an important factor in breast cancer, opening up the possibility for novel ERβ-selective therapies in the treatment of breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)635-641
Number of pages7
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 11 2009


  • Angiogenesis
  • Apoptosis
  • Cell cycle
  • Phytoestrogens
  • Proliferation
  • Tumor growth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Pharmacology


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