It is becoming increasingly clear that steroid hormones are involved in the biology of many organs outside the reproductive system. Evidence has been accumulating since the mid 1990s that the lung contains receptors for both estrogen and progesterone and that these hormones have some role in lung development, pulmonary inflammation, and lung cancer. The estrogen receptor β (ERβ) is the major ER expressed in lung tissues, while inflammatory cells capable of infiltrating the lung are reported to express both ERα and ERβ. Although there is evidence in animals of preferential effects of ERβ in the lungs of females, human lung tumors from males also contain ERβ-positive cells and express aromatase, the enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogens. This review will discuss current literature findings on the role of the ERs and the progesterone receptor (PR), as well CYP19 (aromatase), the rate-limiting enzyme in the synthesis of estrogen, in lung cancer.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported in part by the following grants: SPORE in Lung Cancer P50 090440 from the National Cancer Institute to J.M.S. , Career Development Award from the SPORE in Lung Cancer P50 090440 to L.P.S., an award from the V Foundation for Cancer Research to J.M.S., and an award from the Lung Cancer Research Foundation to L.P.S.