renal cell carcinoma, steroid hormones, retinoids, androgen receptor, kidney cancer
Steroid hormones and their receptors have important roles in normal kidney biology, and alterations in their expression and function help explain the differences in development of kidney diseases, such as nephrotic syndrome and chronic kidney disease. The distinct gender difference in incidence of renal cell carcinoma (RCC), with males having almost twice the incidence as females globally, also suggests a role for sex hormones or their receptors in RCC development and progression. There was a peak in interest in evaluating the roles of androgen and estrogen receptors in RCC pathogenesis in the late 20th century, with some positive outcomes for RCC therapy that targeted estrogen receptors, especially for metastatic disease. Since that time, however, there have been few studies that look at use of steroid hormone modulators for RCC, especially in the light of new therapies such as the tyrosine kinase inhibitors and new immune therapies, which are having some success for treatment of metastatic RCC. This review summarises past and current literature and attempts to stimulate renewed interest in research into the steroid hormones and their receptors, which might be used to effect, for example, in combination with the other newer targeted therapies for RCC.