Oestrogen receptor-beta expression in melanocytic lesions

Exp Dermatol. 2006 Dec;15(12):971-80. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0625.2006.00502.x.


Melanomas rarely occur before puberty, have a higher death rate for males, and tend to be more invasive during pregnancy. Prior to the discovery of a second oestrogen receptor (ERbeta), studies with the initial oestrogen receptor, ERalpha, showed no obvious role for oestrogen in the pathophysiology of benign or malignant melanocytic lesions. To investigate the specific immunostaining patterns of ERalpha and ERbeta, benign nevocytic nevi, dysplastic nevi with mild, moderate and severe cytological atypia, lentigo malignas and melanomas of varying depth (Clark) and thickness (Breslow) were studied. ERbeta but not ERalpha was the predominant oestrogen receptor we found in all types of benign and malignant melanocytic lesions. The most intense ERbeta immunostaining was seen in melanocytes in dysplastic nevi with severe cytological atypia and in lentigo malignas. ERbeta expression levels also correlated with the malignant tumor microenvironment; i.e., melanocytes in proximity with keratinocytes>deeper dermal melanocytes in contact with stroma>minimally invasive melanomas>Clark Level III/IV or thick melanomas (Breslow). Discovery that ERbeta expression varies in relation to the tumor microenvironment and increasing depth of invasion suggests its possible usefulness as a surrogate marker for neoplasia and prognosis in malignant melanoma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Carcinoma in Situ / metabolism
  • Carcinoma in Situ / pathology
  • Dysplastic Nevus Syndrome / metabolism*
  • Dysplastic Nevus Syndrome / pathology
  • Epidermis / metabolism
  • Epidermis / pathology
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha / metabolism
  • Estrogen Receptor beta / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hutchinson's Melanotic Freckle / metabolism
  • Hutchinson's Melanotic Freckle / pathology
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Keratinocytes / metabolism
  • Keratinocytes / pathology
  • Male
  • Melanocytes / metabolism
  • Melanocytes / pathology
  • Melanoma / metabolism*
  • Melanoma / pathology
  • Sebaceous Glands / metabolism
  • Sebaceous Glands / pathology
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Skin Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology
  • Stromal Cells / metabolism
  • Stromal Cells / pathology


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha
  • Estrogen Receptor beta