Review

Molecular biology, expression and clinical significance of ErbB receptors in endometrial cancer

Androutsopoulos Georgios, Michail Georgios, Adonakis Georgios, Decavalas Georgios

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Patras, Medical School, Rio, Patras, Greece

Correspondence: Androutsopoulos Georgios, 21 Nikolaou Apostoli St, GR – 26332, Patras, Greece, E – mail: androutsopoulosgeorgios@hotmail.com


Abstract

The epidermal growth factor system (EGF system) is present in human organs and play important role in cell proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis during embryogenesis and postnatal development. It has 4 receptors (EGFR, ErbB – 2, ErbB – 3 and ErbB – 4) and numerous ligands. Dysregulation of the epidermal growth factor system signaling network, is implicated in the pathogenesis of various disorders. Especially in cancer, the epidermal growth factor system becomes hyperactivated with various mechanisms (ligand overproduction, receptor overproduction, constitutive receptor activation). Endometrial cancer occurs primarily in postmenopausal women. Due to the inactive status of postmenopausal endometrium, it is expectable to find significantly higher expression of the 4 ErbB receptors in endometrial cancer tissue. EGFR overexpression in type I endometrial cancer, did not affect disease progression. However EGFR overexpression in type II endometrial cancer, associated with high grade and adverse clinical outcome. Moreover ΕrbB – 2 overexpression, especially in type II endometrial cancer, is an indicator of a highly aggressive disease with poor overall survival. The clinical significance of ErbB receptors in endometrial cancer should be further investigated in future clinical trials. Moreover additional studies into the molecular pathways of endometrial cancer development and progression, will increase our knowledge and lead to the discovery of new generation molecules with higher therapeutic efficacy.

Keywords: endometrial cancer, epidermal growth factor system, ErbB receptors, molecular biology, expression, clinical significance

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