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Expression profile and prognostic role of sex hormone receptors in gastric cancer

Lu Gan1, Jian He1, Xia Zhang1, Yong-Jie Zhang1, Guan-Zhen Yu1, Ying Chen2, Jun Pan1, Jie-Jun Wang1* and Xi Wang1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Oncology, Changzheng Hospital, Second Military Medical University, Shanghai, China

2 Department of Pathology, Changhai Hospital, Second Military Medical University, Shanghai, China

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BMC Cancer 2012, 12:566  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-12-566

Published: 2 December 2012



Increasing interest has been devoted to the expression and possible role of sex hormone receptors in gastric cancer, but most of these findings are controversial. In the present study, the expression profile of sex hormone receptors in gastric cancer and their clinicopathological and prognostic value were determined in a large Chinese cohort.


The mRNA and protein expression of estrogen receptor alpha (ERα), estrogen receptor beta (ERβ), progesterone receptor (PR), and androgen receptor (AR) in primary gastric tumors and corresponding adjacent normal tissues from 60 and 866 Chinese gastric cancer patients was detected by real-time quantitative PCR and immunohistochemistry method, respectively. The expression profile of the four receptors was compared and their associations with clinicopathological characteristics were assessed by using Chi-square test. The prognostic value of the four receptors in gastric cancer was evaluated by using univariate and multivariate Cox regression analysis.


The presence of ERα, ERβ, PR, and AR in both gastric tumors and normal tissues was confirmed but their expression levels were extremely low except for the predominance of ERβ. The four receptors were expressed independently and showed a decreased expression pattern in gastric tumors compared to adjacent normal tissues. The positive expression of the four receptors all correlated with high tumor grade and intestinal type, and ERα and AR were also associated with early TNM stage and thereby a favorable outcome. However, ERα and AR were not independent prognostic factors for gastric cancer when multivariate survival analysis was performed.


Our findings indicate that the sex hormone receptors may be partly involved in gastric carcinogenesis but their clinicopathological and prognostic significance in gastric cancer appears to be limited.

Gastric cancer; Estrogen receptor alpha; Estrogen receptor beta; Progesterone receptor; Androgen receptor; Prognosis