Gender effect in experimental models of human medulloblastoma: Does the estrogen receptor β signaling play a role?

Alessandra Ciucci, Daniela Meco, Ilaria De Stefano, Daniele Travaglia, Gian Franco Zannoni, Giovanni Scambia, Riccardo Riccardi, Anna Saran, Mariateresa Mancuso, Daniela Gallo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The male-to-female sex ratio for medulloblastoma (MB) is approximately 1.5:1, female gender being also a favorable prognostic factor. This study aimed at evaluating the impact of gender on MB tumorigenesis. Methods: In vitro activity of 17β-estradiol (E2), DPN [2,3-bis(4-hydroxyphenyl)-propionitrile, a selective estrogen receptor β (ERβ)-agonist], PPT [4,4′,4″-(4-Propyl-[1H]-pyrazole-1,3,5- triyl) trisphenol, a selective ERα-agonist] or DHT (5 alphadihydrotestosterone) was evaluated in three human MB cell lines. D283 Med cells were transplanted into athymic mice. Results: A significant expression of ERβ, with little or no ERα, and low AR (androgen receptor) was found in MB cell lines. The compounds tested did not affect cell proliferation. In vivo, we observed a significantly lower growth of D283 Med in nude female mice compared to males. At microscopic examination, tumors from females showed a shift towards differentiation, as evaluated by lower nestin, and higher NSE (neuron-specific enolase) and GFAP (glial fibrillary acidic protein) expression compared to males. Tumors from females also showed lower Ki67 and p53 expression. The wild-type ERβ protein (ERβ1) was lost in male tumors, while it was a permanent feature in females, and a strong negative correlation was found between Ki67 and ERβ1 expression. Conversely, tumor levels of ERβ2 and ERβ5 did not significantly differ between genders. Increased levels of cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21 were observed in females, suggesting that estrogen may decrease tumor growth through blocking cell cycle progression. An inhibition of the insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) signaling was also evident in females. Conclusion: We provides mechanistic evidence supporting the idea that ERβ1 signaling may have pro-differentiation and tumor suppressive function in medulloblastomas. © 2014 Ciucci et al.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere101623
Pages (from-to)-
JournalPLoS One
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

Cite this

Ciucci, A., Meco, D., De Stefano, I., Travaglia, D., Zannoni, G. F., Scambia, G., ... Gallo, D. (2014). Gender effect in experimental models of human medulloblastoma: Does the estrogen receptor β signaling play a role? PLoS One, 9(7), -. [e101623].