Association of testicular germ cell tumor with polymorphisms in estrogen receptor and steroid metabolism genes

    1. Carlo Foresta
    1. Section of Clinical Pathology and Centre for Male Gamete Cryopreservation, Department of Histology, Microbiology and Medical Biotechnologies, University of Padova, Via Gabelli 63, 35121 Padova, Italy
      1Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health, University of Padova, Via Loredan 18, 35131 Padova, Italy
    1. (Correspondence should be addressed to C Foresta; Email: carlo.foresta{at}


    It is generally assumed that the development of testicular germ cell tumor (TGCT) is under endocrine control. In particular, unbalanced androgen/estrogen levels and/or activity are believed to represent the key events for TGCT development and progression. Furthermore, recent evidence has suggested a strong genetic component for TGCT. In this study, we analyzed whether a genetic variation in estrogen receptor (ESR) genes and steroid hormone metabolism genes is associated with TGCT. We genotyped for 17 polymorphic markers in 11 genes in 234 TGCT cases and 218 controls: ESR (ESR1 and ESR2); CYP19A1 (aromatase); 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase types 1 and 4 (HSD17B1 and HSD17B4) dehydrogenases that convert potent androgens and estrogens to weak hormones; cytochrome P450 hydroxylating enzymes CYP1A1, CYP1A2, and CYP1B1; and the metabolic enzymes COMT, SULT1A1, and SULT1E1. We observed a significant association of rs11205 in HSD17B4 with TGCT. TGCT risk was increased twofold per copy of the minor A allele at this locus (odds ratios (OR)=2.273, 95% confidence interval (CI)=1.737–2.973). Homozygous carriage of the minor A allele was associated with an over fourfold increased risk of TGCT (OR=4.561, 95% CI=2.615–7.955) compared with homozygous carriage of the major G allele. The risk was increased both for seminoma (OR=5.327, 95% CI=2.857–9.931) and for nonseminoma (OR=3.222, 95% CI=1.471–7.059). We found for the first time an association of polymorphisms in HSD17B4 gene with TGCT. Our findings expand the current knowledge on the role of genetic contribution in testicular cancer susceptibility, and support the hypothesis that variations in hormone metabolism genes might change the hormonal environment implicated in testicular carcinogenesis.

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