Potential Therapeutic Targets for the Primary Gallbladder Carcinoma: Estrogen Receptors


Gallbladder carcinoma, the most frequent malignant neoplasm of the biliary tract system, has always been considered to feature late clinical presentation and diagnosis, limited treatment options and an extremely poor prognosis. In recent years, while the incidence of gallbladder cancer has appeared to be on the increase, the available treatment methods have not greatly improved survival of the affected patients. Thus, exploring new therapeutic targets for this devastating disease is an urgent matter at present. Epidemical studies have demonstrated that the incidence of gallbladder carcinoma exhibits a distinct gender bias, affecting females two to three times more than males, pointing to crucial roles of estrogen. It is well known that estrogen acts on target tissues by binding to estrogen receptors (ERs), which are mainly divided into three subtypes, ERα, ERβ and ERγ. ERα and ERβ appear to have overlapping but also unique even opposite biological effects. As important pathogenic mediators, ERs have been considered to relate to several kinds of tumors. In gallbladder carcinoma tissue, ERs have been shown to be positively expressed, and ERs expression levels are associated with differentiation and prognosis of this cancer. Nevertheless, the exact mechanisms of estrogen inducing growth of gallbladder carcinoma remain poorly understood. On the base of the current investigations, we deduce that estrogen participates in promotion of gallbladder carcinoma by influencing the formation of gallstones, stimulating angiogenesis, and promoting abnormal proliferation. Since ERs mediate the carcinogenic actions of estrogen in gallbladder, and therapy targeting ERs may provide new directions for gallbladder carcinoma. Therefore, it should be stressed that ERs are potential therapeutic targets for gallbladder carcinoma.