Expression of estrogen receptors-α and -β in bladder cancer cell lines and human bladder tumor tissue

Steven Shen, Carolyn L. Smith, Jer Tsong Hsieh, Jiang Yu, Isaac Y. Kim, Weiguo Jian, Guru Sonpavde, Gystavo E. Ayala, Mamoun Younes, Seth P. Lerner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

186 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND. Estrogen receptors (ERs) are known to mediate important physiologic responses as well as the growth of some tumors in response to estradiol stimulation. In a previous study the selective ER modulator raloxifene was shown to induce apoptosis in an ERβ-positive bladder cancer cell line. However, the expression of ERβ in human bladder cancer has not been thoroughly investigated. METHODS. ERα and ERβ expression in 224 bladder tumor samples was evaluated using tissue microarray and immunohistochemistry. Levels of ERα and ERβ protein and mRNA expression were determined in several bladder cancer cell lines using quantitative reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and Western blot analysis. The effect of estradiol and antiestrogen treatments on RT4 bladder cancer cell growth was determined by cell proliferation assays. RESULTS. Analyses revealed that only 2 human bladder cancers weakly expressed ERα. In contrast, the expression of ERβ was detected in 141 tumors (63%). ERβ was expressed in 58% of WHO Grade 1 and 2 tumors, whereas 70% of Grade 3 tumors demonstrated expression (P=.085). Importantly, although only 53% and 55% of Ta and T1 tumors demonstrated ERβ expression, 80% of T2, 81% of T3, and 75% of T4 tumors showed ERβ expression. The differences in ERβ expression between Ta/T1 and T2/T3/T4 tumors were found to be highly significant (P<.001). Metastatic transitional cell carcinomas had ERβ expression (80%) comparable to that of muscle invasive bladder cancers. Western blot analysis detected ERβ protein expression in each of the 5 bladder cancer cell lines tested, whereas no or very low levels of ERα were found. Quantitative RT-PCR revealed that higher levels of ERβ than ERa mRNA were present in 5637, T-24, TSU-Pr1, and TCC-Sup bladder cancer cells, whereas ER-α mRNA levels were greater than ERβ in RT4 cells. Treatment with 17β-estradiol modestly increased RT4 cell growth, whereas the antiestrogens, 4-hydroxtamoxifen, raloxifene, or ICI 182,780 inhibited the growth of RT4 cells. CONCLUSIONS. ERβ is the dominant receptor expressed in bladder cancer cell lines and in the majority of human bladder tumors. Moreover, the degree of ERβ expression increases with increasing stage and grade of differentiation. Antiestrogens have an inhibitory effect on the growth of bladder cancer cells in vitro.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2610-2616
Number of pages7
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 15 2006


  • Bladder cancer
  • Estrogen receptor
  • Immmunohistochemistry
  • Quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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