Exploring the Effects of Estrogen Receptor Beta Polymorphisms on Wound Repair

  • Matthew Smith

Student thesis: Phd


Estrogen is an important regulator and promoter of epithelial wound healing. This is facilitated by increased keratinocyte and fibroblast migration and proliferation, as well as promotion of angiogenesis, matrix deposition and inflammatory response dampening. The potential to target this pathway for therapeutics is highlighted by observations that post-menopausal women on hormone replacement therapy have a significantly lower incidence of venous ulcers. Previous work from this laboratory identified four SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) in the 5'UTR of estrogen receptor beta (ERβ) gene that are associated with venous ulcer predisposition. Disease association is further supported by the identification of ERβ as the main conduit of the beneficial effects of estrogen signalling on wound healing. SNP's of the 5'UTR can affect transcriptional expression through the modification of transcription factor binding sites, epigenetic modifications and translational efficiency via mRNA localisation and secondary structure alterations. To investigate the possible biological function of these SNPs, we have developed disease relevant cell based assays where primary keratinocyte and fibroblast cells were selected harbouring disease-associated SNPs. We demonstrate that the presence of venous ulcer-associated ERβ SNPs reduced the expression of ERβ in skin cells and reduced their migration and proliferative capabilities. Evidence gathered here suggests that ERβ expression is curtailed by a change in transcription factor binding, likely facilitated by the change in nucleotide sequence brought about by the rs2987983 SNP. Further, we demonstrate that SNP-induced changes in fibroblast expression of growth factors and inflammatory mediators can hinder keratinocyte migration and induce a pro-inflammatory phenotype in human monocytes. Lastly, RNAseq analysis of keratinocytes reveals a SNP-dependant gene expression profile that is detrimental to wound healing. This work provides the first evidence of a direct functional link between venous ulcer-associated ERβ SNPs and dysfunctional wound healing. Investigating ERβ SNPs has provided insight into novel mechanisms of estrogen signalling that can be applied for therapeutic development to treat venous ulcers.
Date of Award1 Aug 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorMatthew Hardman (Supervisor) & Anthony Day (Supervisor)


  • ESR2
  • ERß
  • Estrogen receptor
  • Wound healing
  • Estrogen
  • Wound

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