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Reuters Health Information (2006-07-14): Estrogen receptor polymorphisms tied to liver cancer


Estrogen receptor polymorphisms tied to liver cancer

Last Updated: 2006-07-14 19:09:43 -0400 (Reuters Health)

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - In chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) carriers, estrogen receptor polymorphisms are associated with an increased risk of hepatocellular carcinoma, according to Chinese researchers.

In the June issue of Gastroenterology, Dr. Yun Zhai of the Beijing Institute of Radiation Medicine and colleagues note that in humans and in animal models, overexpression of estrogen receptors is implicated in the development of liver cancer.

To determine whether this might be true of estrogen receptor-1 polymorphisms in chronic carriers of HBV, the researchers recruited 248 HBV carriers with hepatocellular carcinoma. All of the subjects were newly diagnosed and previously untreated. Another 239 HBV carriers without hepatocellular carcinoma acted as controls.

The researchers examined six estrogen receptor-1 polymorphisms involving thymine-adenine repeats. In subjects with any of three homozygous alleles and a high number of thymine-adenine repeats, there was a significant increase in susceptibility to hepatocellular carcinoma compared to those with homozygous alleles and a low number of thymine-adenine repeats.

Based on these and other findings, the researchers conclude that people who are genetically predisposed to produce an increased messenger RNA level of estrogen receptor-1 "seem to be more prone to hepatocellular carcinoma."

The team points out that further studies are required. Because of strong linkage disequilibrium, they were unable to determine if any particular sites were driving the association.

Gastroenterology 2006;130:2001-2009.

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