Sex affects the risk, treatment responses and outcome of many types of cancers. The mechanism of gender disparity in development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remains obscure. Sex-determining region on Y chromosome (SRY) was overexpressed in approximate 84% male patient HCC. Moreover, we are the first to generate a liver-specific transgenic (TG) murine model with overexpression of the male specific gene SRY. Subject to a single intraperitoneal injection N-nitrosodiethylamine (DEN) at day 14, TG and wildtype (WT) mice of both genders were sacrificed at different time points (6-13.5 months). Overexpression of SRY in male TG and ectopic expression of SRY in female TG livers promoted DEN-induced hepatocarcinogenesis compared to age- and sex-matched WT. This accelerated tumorigenesis in TG of both genders was a consequence of increased injury and inflammation, fibrosis, and compensatory enhancement in hepatocytes proliferation secondary to activation of downstream targets Sox9 and platelet-derived growth factor receptor α (PDGFRα)/phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt and c-myc/CyclinD1. In conclusion, activation of SRY and its downstream Sox9 and PDGFRα pathways are commonly involved in male hepatocarcinogenesis, which provides novel insights into gender disparity and sex-specific therapeutic strategies of HCC.
Keywords: Liver; Sex; Sex-determining region on Y chromosome; Sox9; Transgenic.
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