Quantitation of estrogen and androgen receptors in hepatocellular carcinoma and adjacent normal human liver

Patricia K. Eagon, Antonio Francavilla, Alfredo DiLeo, Mary S. Elm, Leandro Gennari, Vincenzo Mazzaferro, Giovanni Colella, David H. Van Thiel, Thomas E. Starzl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sex hormones have been shown to influence the development and course of several liver diseases. The worldwide predominance of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in males has led to the suggestion that this disease might be hormone-responsive. Therefore, the hepatic estrogen (ER) and androgen receptor (AR) status of liver specimens from such patients was investigated. Samples were obtained from three female and six male patients undergoing liver resection; in each case, a small sample of both the tumor and adjacent normal tissue was collected. All patients had primary hepatocellular carcinoma without cirrhosis. In most cases, the tumor and the normal specimen had an equivalent content of cytosolic ER; however, three of the tumor samples (one female and two male) displayed considerably elevated cytosolic ER levels as compared to that of the normal tissue. In every sample, the tumor contained less nuclear ER than did the normal liver. When AR was measured, tumors of three patients (one female and two male) demonstrated a twofold elevation in cytosolic AR as compared to adjacent normal tissue. In the two male patients, an approximately twofold greater nuclear AR was found. Two other samples from male patients showed a modest elevation of cytosolic AR in the tumors. The patients whose tumors showed elevations in ER were not the same patients as those in whom the AR was elevated. Thus, these studies indicate that certain, but not all, specimens of HCC demonstrate either elevated ER or AR and suggest that a determination of receptor content might be useful prior to initiation of certain antihormone therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1303-1308
Number of pages6
JournalDigestive Diseases and Sciences
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1991


  • androgen receptors
  • estrogen receptors
  • hepatocellular carcinoma
  • sex hormones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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