Novel pathway analysis of genomic polymorphism-cancer risk interaction in the breast cancer prevention trial

Barbara K. Dunn, Mark H. Greene, Jenny M. Kelley, Joseph P. Costantino, Robert J. Clifford, Ying Hu, Gong Tang, Neely Kazerouni, Philip S. Rosenberg, Daoud M. Meerzaman, Kenneth H. Buetow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Purpose: Tamoxifen was approved for breast cancer risk reduction in high-risk women based on the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project's Breast Cancer Prevention Trial (P-1:BCPT), which showed 50% fewer breast cancers with tamoxifen versus placebo, supporting tamoxifen's efficacy in preventing breast cancer. Poor metabolizing CYP2D6 variants are currently the subject of intensive scrutiny regarding their impact on clinical outcomes in the adjuvant setting. Our study extends to variants in a wider spectrum of tamoxifen-metabolizing genes and applies to the prevention setting. Methods: Our case-only study, nested within P-1:BCPT, explored associations of polymorphisms in estrogen/tamoxifen-metabolizing genes with responsiveness to preventive tamoxifen. Thirty-nine candidate polymorphisms in 17 candidate genes were genotyped in 249 P-1:BCPT cases. Results: CYP2D6_C1111T, individually and within a CYP2D6 haplotype, showed borderline significant association with treatment arm. Path analysis of the entire tamoxifen pathway gene network showed that the tamoxifen pathway model was consistent with the pattern of observed genotype variability within the placebo-arm dataset. However, correlation of variations in genes in the tamoxifen arm differed significantly from the predictions of the tamoxifen pathway model. Strong correlations between allelic variation in the tamoxifen pathway at CYP1A1-CYP3A4, CYP3A4-CYP2C9, and CYP2C9-SULT1A2, in addition to CYP2D6 and its adjacent genes, were seen in the placebo-arm but not the tamoxifen-arm. In conclusion, beyond reinforcing a role for CYP2D6 in tamoxifen response, our pathway analysis strongly suggests that specific combinations of allelic variants in other genes make major contributions to the tamoxifen-resistance phenotype.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)332-349
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Epidemiology and Genetics
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast cancer
  • Breast cancer risk
  • Chemoprevention
  • Genomic
  • Pathway analysis
  • Tamoxifen resistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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