Genetic modeling of estrogen metabolism as a risk factor of hormone-dependent disorders

Maturitas. 2002 Apr 15;41 Suppl 1:S55-64. doi: 10.1016/s0378-5122(02)00015-4.


Estradiol is a pleiotropic hormone, involved in the etiology of a wide variety of diseases. Over the last decade individual genetic variability of the estradiol metabolism has been described as a significant contributor to disease susceptibility with variations depending on ethnic background. Among others, genetic variations of genes encoding cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes play an important role in this regard. Mutant alleles of the CYP 1A1 gene are major modulators of lung cancer risk among smokers, mediate gender differences in lung cancer susceptibility, and have been associated with an elevated risk for breast, prostate, colorectal, and oral squamous cell cancer. Variants of the CYP 1B1 gene modulate the risk for prostate, ovarian, lung, and breast cancer. Also, mutations in the CYP 1B1 gene are the major genetic determinant of congenital glaucoma. Mutant CYP 17 alleles are associated with serum and plasma levels of steroid hormones, use of hormone replacement therapy, and endometrial, prostate, and breast cancer. Available data indicate that the protective effect of a later age at menarche is limited to mutant CYP 17 allele carriers. Among women with the Polycystic Ovary (PCO) syndrome, mutant CYP 17 alleles are sufficient to aggravate the clinical presentation of the disease. Molecular variants of the CYP 19 gene are associated with an increased risk for breast cancer, advanced disease stage, and tumor aromatase production. Carriage of a mutant catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) allele is associated with breast cancer, neurologic disorders such as Parkinson's disease, and modulates behavior among patients with schizophrenia, alcoholics and the general population. In summary, the available evidence points to estrogen metabolising genes as strong hereditary determinants of the susceptibility to benign and malignant conditions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Catechol O-Methyltransferase / genetics
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / genetics
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / etiology
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / genetics
  • Estradiol / blood
  • Estradiol / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Glaucoma / etiology
  • Glaucoma / genetics
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics
  • Male
  • Neoplasms, Hormone-Dependent / etiology
  • Neoplasms, Hormone-Dependent / genetics*
  • Parkinson Disease / etiology
  • Parkinson Disease / genetics
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / etiology
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / genetics
  • Risk Factors


  • Estradiol
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System
  • Catechol O-Methyltransferase