We have carried out a quantitative analysis of ER-alpha and ER-beta mRNA expression in normal (n = 11) and breast cancer (n = 112) tissues using a real-time (Taq-Man) PCR assay. Expression of ER-beta mRNA variants has also been studied by triple-primer PCR assay. ER-alpha mRNA levels in normal breast tissues were significantly (p < 0.01) lower than those in ER-positive breast cancers but not significantly different from those in ER-negative breast cancers. However, ER-beta mRNA levels in normal breast tissues were significantly (p < 0.01) higher than those in ER-positive and ER-negative breast cancers. Proportions of ER-beta1 and ER-beta2 mRNA expression among total ER-beta mRNA expression were significantly higher and those of ER-beta5 and ER-beta5; mRNA were significantly lower in normal breast tissues than in ER-positive and ER-negative breast cancers. ER-beta mRNA levels and proportions of ER-beta mRNA variants did not show any significant correlation with age, tumor size, lymph node status and histological grade. Our results demonstrate that ER-alpha mRNA is up-regulated and ER-beta mRNA is down-regulated during carcinogenesis of breast cancers. Changes in proportions of ER-beta mRNA variants are also implicated in this process.
Copyright 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.