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Sex steroid hormone receptor expression in the vaginal wall in cervical cancer survivors after radiotherapy

Journal article
Authors A. Hofsjo
N. Bohm-Starke
Karin Bergmark
B. Masironi
L. Sahlin
V. P. Lifornia
Published in Acta Oncologica
Volume 58
Issue 8
Pages 1107-1115
ISSN 0284-186X
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Clinical Sciences, Department of Oncology
Pages 1107-1115
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1080/0284186x.2019.15...
Keywords beta messenger rna, isoform-alpha, estrogen, premenopausal, androgen, tissue, women, progesterone
Subject categories Cancer and Oncology

Abstract

Background: Sex steroid hormones and their receptors are important in female sexual function. The aim of this study was to investigate the expression and distribution of estrogen receptor (ER)alpha, ER beta, G-protein-coupled ER-1 (GPER), androgen receptor (AR), progesterone receptor (PR)A, PRB and connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) in the vaginal wall among women who had been treated for cervical cancer with radiotherapy. Material and methods: We included cervical cancer survivors treated with radiotherapy and premenopausal control women of the same age scheduled for benign gynecological surgery. We analyzed the expression and distribution of sex steroid hormone receptors and CTGF in biopsies from the vaginal wall, by real-time PCR and immunohistochemistry (IHC). Serum samples were analyzed for hormone levels and radiation dose at biopsy site were calculated and correlated to levels of the sex steroid hormone receptors. Results: In the cervical cancer survivors (n = 34), we found a lower expression of ER alpha at both mRNA and protein levels, compared to the control women (n = 37). In the survivors with high radiation dose at biopsy site, the immunostaining of ER alpha and AR was lower in the epithelium and the stroma, compared to survivors with minimal radiation dose. The later group showed expression of ER alpha comparable to the control women. The cancer survivors were sufficiently substituted with systemic estradiol with no difference in the serum estradiol levels compared to control women. Conclusions: We found that external radiation reduces the ER alpha and AR protein expression in the vaginal mucosa, indicating that the vaginal changes in irradiated cervical cancer survivors and the lack of response to hormonal treatment could be due to the decreases in sex steroid hormone receptor expression.

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