ER-β expression in large bowel adenomas: Implications in colon carcinogenesis

A. Di Leo, M. Barone, E. Maiorano, S. Tanzi, D. Piscitelli, S. Marangi, K. Lofano, E. Ierardi, M. Principi, A. Francavilla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: A pivotal role of oestrogen receptor-beta has been suggested in colon carcinogenesis in humans. However, few data are available on oestrogen receptor-beta in colorectal pre-cancerous lesions. Aim: In the present study, we evaluated oestrogen receptor-beta expression and its possible correlation with proliferative activity and apoptosis in colorectal adenomas and normal colon tissue. Patients/methods: Adenomatous tissue from 25 patients with colonic polyps, and normal tissue from 25 controls were used. Oestrogen receptor-beta expression, colonocyte proliferation (expressed as PCNA positivity) and apoptosis were evaluated. Results: In adenomatous tissue, a significant reduction of oestrogen receptor-beta was observed compared to normal mucosa (10.1 ± 5.5% vs. 44.2 ± 13.7; p <0.03), while the expression of oestrogen receptor-alpha remained unvaried. Cell proliferative activity significantly increased in adenomatous tissue compared to normal mucosa (59.3 ± 7.1 vs. 18.5 ± 8.8; p <0.0001), doubling the PCNA/apoptosis ratio. An inverse correlation was found between oestrogen receptor-beta and PCNA expression in adenomas (r = -0.81), a datum confirmed by confocal microscopy evaluation. Conclusions: Our data demonstrate, for the first time, a significant reduction of oestrogen receptor-beta expression already in the pre-cancerous phase of colon carcinogenesis. This suggests a role of selective oestrogen receptor-beta agonists in the prevention of colorectal cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)260-266
Number of pages7
JournalDigestive and Liver Disease
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2008


  • Colorectal cancer
  • Oestrogens receptors
  • Polyps intestinal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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