BACKGROUND Genetics of estrogen synthesis and breast cancer risk has been elusive. The 1245A→C missense-encoding polymorphism in HSD3B1, which is common in White populations, is functionally adrenal permissive and increases synthesis of the aromatase substrate androstenedione. We hypothesized that homozygous inheritance of the adrenal-permissive HSD3B1(1245C) is associated with postmenopausal estrogen receptor–positive (ER-positive) breast cancer.METHODS A prospective study of postmenopausal ER-driven breast cancer was done for determination of HSD3B1 and circulating steroids. Validation was performed in 2 other cohorts. Adrenal-permissive genotype frequency was compared between postmenopausal ER-positive breast cancer, the general population, and postmenopausal ER-negative breast cancer.RESULTS Prospective and validation studies had 157 and 538 patients, respectively, for the primary analysis of genotype frequency by ER status in White female breast cancer patients who were postmenopausal at diagnosis. The adrenal-permissive genotype frequency in postmenopausal White women with estrogen-driven breast cancer in the prospective cohort was 17.5% (21/120) compared with 5.4% (2/37) for ER-negative breast cancer (P = 0.108) and 9.6% (429/4451) in the general population (P = 0.0077). Adrenal-permissive genotype frequency for estrogen-driven postmenopausal breast cancer was validated using Cambridge and The Cancer Genome Atlas data sets: 14.4% (56/389) compared with 6.0% (9/149) for ER-negative breast cancer (P = 0.007) and the general population (P = 0.005). Circulating androstenedione concentration was higher with the adrenal-permissive genotype (P = 0.03).CONCLUSION Adrenal-permissive genotype is associated with estrogen-driven postmenopausal breast cancer. These findings link genetic inheritance of endogenous estrogen exposure to estrogen-driven breast cancer.FUNDING National Cancer Institute, NIH (R01CA236780, R01CA172382, and P30-CA008748); and Prostate Cancer Foundation Challenge Award.
Megan L. Kruse, Mona Patel, Jeffrey McManus, Yoon-Mi Chung, Xiuxiu Li, Wei Wei, Peter S. Bazeley, Fumihiko Nakamura, Aimalie Hardaway, Erinn Downs, Sarat Chandarlapaty, Mathew Thomas, Halle C.F. Moore, George T. Budd, W.H. Wilson Tang, Stanley L. Hazen, Aaron Bernstein, Serena Nik-Zainal, Jame Abraham, Nima Sharifi