The role of estrogen receptors alpha and beta in the development of uterine leiomyomas
Koomson, Jacqueline Nyarkoa
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Uterine leiomyomas are benign tumors within the uterus, where patients present with symptoms such as abnormal bleeding, urinary retention, and pelvic pressure. The exact etiology of uterine leiomyomas is unknown, but numerous theories have been proposed, indicating a multifactorial mechanism, including lifestyle and steroid hormones. Uterine leiomyomas have become a public health concern due to the high cost of treatment as well as the high prevalence within African American communities. Currently, many treatment options exist, ranging from conservative treatments that address symptoms, to surgical intervention to remove the uterus. Research efforts thus far have determined the relationship between the role of estrogen in the growth of uterine leiomyomas (which has led to development of medications that target different approaches to estrogen synthesis) and its effects in the pathogenesis. Studies have shown that estrogen acts on estrogen receptor subtypes, ER and ER. This study examines the role of these two receptors in estrogenic effects, and how these effects relate to the development of uterine leiomyomas. Available research has shown that each receptor has its unique functions and impacts the growth of tumors differently. There is conflicting evidence in how the number of receptors and surrounding environment modulate leiomyomas, with some studies reporting that it is the corepressors and/or coactivators that ultimately determine the influence of estrogenic effects. However, the general consensus of such studies suggests that estrogen receptor-specific therapeutic intervention is a novel area with great potential. The primary benefit of estrogen receptor-specific treatment, such as selective estrogen receptor modulators, is the ability to regulate physiological processes that contribute to the growth of uterine leiomyomas. Future directions of research include confirming the exact roles of ER and ER and harnessing the effects of their differing functions to manage uterine leiomyomas.