Venous ulcers are characterized by excessive inflammation and raised levels of proinflammatory cytokines. Estrogen has been shown to accelerate the rate of wound healing in elderly subjects by dampening the inflammatory response. The estrogen receptor (ER) proteins, ER-alpha (ERα) and ER-beta (ERβ) mediate the actions of estrogen during wound repair through the activation or repression of target gene transcription. Recent evidence implicates the chromosomal region harboring the ERβ gene with venous ulceration in a British Caucasian population, highlighting the need to conduct further genetic interrogation. To address this, we conducted a case-control study to investigate whether single nucleotide polymorphisms in the ERβ gene are associated with venous ulceration in elderly (age >50 years) subjects. We recruited a case group (n = 124, 56 males and 68 females) consisting of patients with an active venous ulcer and a control group consisting of individuals from the general population with no evidence of venous disease or history of venous ulceration (n = 380, 189 males and 191 females). Polymorphisms in close proximity to upstream regulatory regions of the ERβ gene, including the 0N exon and promoter transcribed in inflammatory cells, were significantly (p < 0.05) associated with venous ulceration. A major susceptibility haplotype carried by 23% (26/112) of cases compared with only 10% (27/276) of controls (odds ratio = 2.8, 95% confidence interval = 1.6-5.0) was significantly (p < 0.01) associated with elevated serum levels of tumor necrosis factor-alpha. In conclusion, common variation in the regulatory regions of the ERβ gene may pre-dispose to venous ulceration in a British Caucasian population.
- Steroid hormone