Unlike prostate and breast cancers, urothelial carcinoma of the urinary bladder is not yet considered as an endocrine-related neoplasm, and hormonal therapy for bladder cancer remains experimental. Nonetheless, there is increasing evidence indicating that nuclear hormone receptor signals are implicated in the development and progression of bladder cancer. Androgen-mediated androgen receptor (AR) signals have been convincingly shown to induce bladder tumorigenesis. Androgens also promote the growth of AR-positive bladder cancer cells, although it is controversial whether AR plays a dominant role in bladder cancer progression. Both stimulatory and inhibitory functions of estrogen receptor signals in bladder cancer have been reported. Various studies have also demonstrated the involvement of other nuclear receptors, including progesterone receptor, glucocorticoid receptor, vitamin D receptor, and retinoid receptors, as well as some orphan receptors, in bladder cancer. This review summarizes and discusses available data suggesting the modulation of bladder carcinogenesis and cancer progression via nuclear hormone receptor signaling pathways. These pathways have the potential to be an extremely important area of bladder cancer research, leading to the development of effective chemopreventive/therapeutic approaches, using hormonal manipulation. Considerable uncertainty remains regarding the selection of patients who are likely to benefit from hormonal therapy and optimal options for the treatment.
Keywords: Androgen, bladder cancer, estrogen, glucocorticoid, nuclear receptor, progesterone, vitamin D, retinoid, Small interfering RNA, Vascular endothelial growth factor, UDP-glucuronosyltransferase, Dihydrotestosterone, Diethylstilbestrol, Polymerase chain reaction, Reverse transcription