Delayed Puberty and Estrogen Resistance in a Woman with Estrogen Receptor α Variant

From the Section of Reproductive Endocrinology, Infertility, and Genetics, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Institute of Molecular Medicine and Genetics, and the Neuroscience Program, Medical College of Georgia, Georgia Regents University, Augusta (S.D.Q., H.-G.K., L.P.C., L.C.L.)
New England Journal of Medicine (Impact Factor: 55.87). 07/2013; 369(2):164-171. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1303611
Source: PubMed


Although androgen resistance has been characterized in men with a normal chromosome complement and mutations in the androgen-receptor gene, a mutation in the gene encoding estrogen receptor α (ESR1) was previously described only in one man and not, to our knowledge, in a woman. We now describe an 18-year-old woman without breast development and with markedly elevated serum levels of estrogens and bilateral multicystic ovaries. She was found to have a homozygous loss-of-function ESR1 mutation in a completely conserved residue that interferes with estrogen signaling. Her clinical presentation was similar to that in the mouse orthologue knockout. This case shows that disruption of ESR1 causes profound estrogen resistance in women. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health.).

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    • "Pathologic, reactive hyperestrogenism may occur as a feedback mechanism against defective ER signaling.34,35 In these cases, excessive estrogen production is not a causal factor for diseases but serves as a breakthrough of blocked ER signaling mechanisms. "
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    ABSTRACT: Recognition of the two main pathologic mechanisms equally leading to breast cancer development may provide explanations for the apparently controversial results obtained by sexual hormone measurements in breast cancer cases. Either insulin resistance or estrogen receptor (ER) defect is the initiator of pathologic processes and both of them may lead to breast cancer development. Primary insulin resistance induces hyperandrogenism and estrogen deficiency, but during these ongoing pathologic processes, ER defect also develops. Conversely, when estrogen resistance is the onset of hormonal and metabolic disturbances, initial counteraction is hyperestrogenism. Compensatory mechanisms improve the damaged reactivity of ERs; however, their failure leads to secondary insulin resistance. The final stage of both pathologic pathways is the breakdown of estrogen surveillance, leading to breast cancer development. Among premenopausal breast cancer cases, insulin resistance is the preponderant initiator of alterations with hyperandrogenism, which is reflected by the majority of studies suggesting a causal role of hyperandrogenism in breast cancer development. In the majority of postmenopausal cases, tumor development may also be initiated by insulin resistance, while hyperandrogenism is typically coupled with elevated estrogen levels within the low postmenopausal hormone range. This mild hyperestrogenism is the remnant of reactive estrogen synthesis against refractory ERs that were successfully counteracted at a younger age. When refractoriness of ERs is the initiator of pathologic processes, reactively increased estrogen levels may be found in both young and older breast cancer cases, while they may exhibit clinical symptoms of estrogen deficiency. Studies justifying a causal correlation between hyperestrogenism and tumor development compile such breast cancer cases. In conclusion, the quantitative evaluation of ER refractoriness in breast cancer cases has great importance, since the stronger the estrogen resistance, the higher the promising dose of estrogen therapy.
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    • "Genome sequencing will be integrated into clinical care in many ways. It is already demonstrating clinical utility for the diagnosis and treatment of certain cancers [5,19] and rare diseases [2,3,20-22] and shows promise for use in infectious disease outbreaks [23-25] and fetal diagnosis in prenatal medicine [7,26]. The design of the MedSeq Project models two archetypal scenarios for how WGS could be integrated into clinical care. "
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    • "Our patient had several clinical features in common with the first female patient recently described with oestrogen resistance due to a novel homozygous missense mutation in a highly conserved region of exon 5 of the oestrogen receptor α (ESR1) [32]. Both lacked spontaneous breast development, and had primary amenorrhoea and osteopaenia. "
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    ABSTRACT: Aromatase deficiency is a rare, autosomal recessive disorder of which there are approximately twenty four case reports. The aromatase enzyme is crucial in the biosynthesis of oestrogens from androgens. The phenotype of aromatase deficiency therefore is the result of androgen excess and oestrogen deficiency in the absence of normal aromatase activity. We report the first case of aromatase deficiency diagnosed in a female adult, at the age of 32 years, due to a novel duplication in the aromatase gene. A 32 year old Indian woman presented with a history of gender assignment difficulties at birth, lack of pubertal development, osteopaenia with fracture and tall stature. She had central obesity, impaired fasting glucose and borderline hypertension. Past examinations had revealed partial fusion of urethra and vagina, hypoplastic uterus and streak ovaries. The ovaries had been excised due to malignant risk after an initial clinical diagnosis of Turner's syndrome with Y mosaicism. Oestrogen replacement commenced shortly after her fracture, in adulthood. After reassessment, aromatase deficiency was diagnosed. Sequencing of the coding exons of the aromatase (CYP19A1; OMIM 109710) gene revealed a novel 27-base duplication in exon 8 (p.Ala306_Ser314dup). This duplication, occurring within the aromatase alpha-helix, would be likely to disrupt substrate (androgen) and cofactor (protoporphyrin IX) binding, resulting in a lack of oestrogen synthesis. We report a female with a phenotype compatible with aromatase deficiency which was unrecognised until adulthood and found she had a novel duplication in CYP19A1. Previous case reports have described polycystic ovarian morphology, especially in childhood and adolescence, but never streak ovaries. This may reflect the few adult cases reported, that aromatase deficiency in females is generally diagnosed at birth and oestrogen treatment commences decades earlier than occurred in our patient. Streak ovaries are consistent with the phenotype of the aromatase knockout mouse followed through adulthood. The observed clinical features of obesity, dysglycaemia and hypertension, are compatible with the observation that lack of a counterbalancing effect of oestrogen on tissue androgens until adulthood may lead to a metabolic syndrome phenotype. This report broadens the spectra of phenotype and genetic mutations underlying this rare disorder.
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