Expression and functional consequences of oestrogen and progesterone receptors in human insulinomas

Edward Alabraba, Philippe Taniere, Gary Reynolds, Paul Stewart, SJ Wigmore, Simon Bramhall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)


The expression of steroid receptors by tumours offers a therapeutic advantage if functionally responsive to exogenous hormones. Insulinomas represent a highly symptomatic group of pancreatic tumours and the steroid receptor status of these tumours is poorly understood. The object of the study was to characterise the sex steroid receptor status of human insulinomas and to investigate whether sex steroids alter insulin expression therein. At our tertiary referral University Hospital, archival and prospective tissues from 25 insulinoma patients collected over 14 years were analysed for oestrogen receptor-alpha (ERalpha), oestrogen receptor beta (ERbeta) and progesterone receptor (PR) expression. Tissue explants of insulinoma and control pancreatic tissue from two new insulinoma patients were cultured and treated with oestrogen and progesterone and insulin expression measured by RT-PCR and ELISA. The main outcome measures were established before data collection and included sex steroid receptor status of tumours and insulin expression in fresh tissue in response to exogenous sex steroids. PR was expressed in 24 out of 25, ERalpha in 10 out of 25 and ERbeta in 21 out of 25 insulinomas. In fresh insulinoma cultures, insulin expression was increased by oestrogen or progesterone, whereas no significant effect was observed in adjacent pancreatic tissue. This study demonstrates widespread expression of sex steroid receptors on human insulinoma tissue and provides in vitro evidence of functionality with increased expression of insulin by insulinoma explants in response to exogenous oestrogen or progesterone. Confirmation of these results may provide a therapeutic mechanism for reducing symptomatic insulin secretion by receptor blockade.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1081-8
Number of pages8
JournalEndocrine-related cancer
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2007


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