Estrogen receptor expression and gene promoter methylation in non-small cell lung cancer - a short report
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In the past, anomalous estrogen receptor (ER) regulation has been associated with various lung pathologies, but so far its involvement in lung cancer initiation and/or progression has remained unclear. Here, we aimed at assessing in vivo and in vitro ER expression and its possible epigenetic regulation in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) samples and their corresponding normal tissues and cells.
ERα and ERβ gene expression levels were assessed using real time quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR), whereas ERα and ERβ gene promoter methylation levels were assessed using DNA bisulfite conversion followed by pyrosequencing. We included NSCLC (n = 87) and adjacent histologically normal lung tissue samples from lung cancer patients (n = 184), primary normal bronchial epithelial-derived cell cultures (n = 11), immortalized bronchial epithelial-derived cell lines (n = 3) and NSCLC derived cell lines (n = 9).
Using RT-qPCR we found significantly lower ERα and ERβ expression levels in the NSCLC tissue samples compared to their normal adjacent tissue samples. These lower ER expression levels were confirmed in vitro using primary normal bronchial epithelial-derived cell cultures, immortalized bronchial epithelial-derived cell lines and NSCLC-derived cell lines. By using this latter panel of cells, we found that ER gene promoter hypermethylation was associated with decreased ER expression. In addition we found that in tumor and normal lung tissues, smoking was associated with decreased ER expression and that normal lung tissues with a low ERβ expression level exhibited increased smoking-related DNA adducts.
Taken together, our results indicate that decreased ER expression mediated by DNA methylation may play a role in NSCLC development.
KeywordsEstrogen receptor Lung cancer Gene expression DNA methylation DNA adducts
This study was supported by grants from the Norwegian Cancer Society. We are grateful to Mrs. Tove Andreassen and Mrs. Elin Einarsdottir Thorner for excellent technical assistance. The authors gratefully acknowledge collaboration of Dr. Lodve Stangeland, Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, for recruiting the lung cancer patients and collecting the tissue specimens.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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