Protumor role of estrogen receptor expression in oral squamous cell carcinoma cells

Published:April 29, 2021DOI:


      Accumulating evidence has demonstrated the protumor role of estrogen receptor (ER)–mediated signaling in multiple cancer types, which is distinct from this signaling in sex steroid–dependent organs. However, its role in oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) remains unclear.

      Study Design

      We assessed the expression of ERα and ERβ in human OSCC tissues by immunohistochemistry and evaluated the expression of both receptors in OSCC cell lines by immunoblotting and flow cytometry. To further assess the contribution of ER-mediated signals to oral cancer progression, proliferation, invasion, and chemosensitivity, cell lines were stimulated with the ER agonist β-estradiol.


      Immunohistochemical analysis of OSCC tissues showed that ERβ was present in the cytoplasm and nuclei of OSCC cells. In contrast, ERα was not detected in any of the cases analyzed. Additionally, the proliferation and invasiveness of OSCC cells were significantly elevated following stimulation with β-estradiol. Chemotherapeutic agent–induced apoptosis of cancer cells was attenuated by pretreatment with β-estradiol.


      ER-mediated signaling plays a crucial role in oral cancer progression by facilitating the proliferation, invasion, and chemoresistance of OSCC cells, indicating its potential for developing novel targeted therapies for this type of cancer.
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