Sex-specific differences in the incidence of urinary bladder carcinomas are well known, and the possible involvement of sex steroids has been proposed. We previously reported the association of the loss of androgen receptors and androgen-producing enzymes with tumor progression of urinary bladder cancer patients. Clinically, the selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) were reported to suppress the progression of these tumors but the status of estrogen receptors (ERs) has not been well studied in patients with bladder urinary cancer. Moreover, not only ERs but also estrogen-related enzymes, such as aromatase, steroid sulfatase (STS), and estrogen sulfotransferase (EST), have been reported in the biological/clinical behavior of various hormone-dependent carcinomas but not studied in urinary bladder carcinoma. Therefore, in this study, we immunolocalized ERs as well as estrogen metabolizing enzymes in urinary bladder carcinoma and performed immunoblotting and cell proliferation assays using the bladder urothelial carcinoma cell line, T24. The results revealed that the loss of STS and aromatase was significantly correlated with advanced stages of the carcinoma. In vitro studies also revealed that T24 cell proliferation rates were significantly ameliorated after treatment with estradiol or diarylpropionitrile (DPN). EST and aromatase were also significantly correlated with the nuclear grade of the carcinoma. The results of our present study, for the first time, demonstrated that biologically active estrogens that bind to ERs could suppress tumor progression and the inactive ones could promote its progression and the potential clinical utility of SERM treatment in selective patients with urinary bladder carcinoma.
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