Metabolic pathway analysis and effectiveness of tamoxifen in Danish breast cancer patients

Thomas P. Ahern, Lindsay J. Collin, James W. Baurley, Anders Kjærsgaard, Rebecca Nash, Maret L. Maliniak, Per Damkier, Michael E. Zwick, R. Benjamin Isett, Peer M. Christiansen, Bent Ejlertsen, Kristina L. Lauridsen, Kristina B. Christensen, Rebecca A. Silliman, Henrik Toft Sørensen, Trine Tramm, Stephen Hamilton-Dutoit, Timothy L. Lash, Deirdre Cronin-Fenton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Tamoxifen and its metabolites compete with estrogen to occupy the estrogen receptor. The conventional dose of adjuvant tamoxifen overwhelms estrogen in this competition, reducing breast cancer recurrence risk by nearly half. Phase I metabolism generates active tamoxifen metabolites, and phase II metabolism deactivates them. No earlier pharmacogenetic study has comprehensively evaluated the metabolism and transport pathways, and no earlier study has included a large population of premenopausal women. Methods: We completed a cohort study of 5,959 Danish nonmetastatic premenopausal breast cancer patients, in whom 938 recurrences occurred, and a case-control study of 541 recurrent cases in a cohort of Danish predominantly postmenopausal breast cancer patients, all followed for 10 years. We collected formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tumor blocks and genotyped 32 variants in 15 genes involved in tamoxifen metabolism or transport. We estimated conventional associations for each variant and used prior information about the tamoxifen metabolic path to evaluate the importance of metabolic and transporter pathways. Results: No individual variant was notably associated with risk of recurrence in either study population. Both studies showed weak evidence of the importance of phase I metabolism in the clinical response to adjuvant tamoxifen therapy. Conclusions: Consistent with prior knowledge, our results support the role of phase I metabolic capacity in clinical response to tamoxifen. Nonetheless, no individual variant substantially explained the modest phase I effect on tamoxifen response. Impact: These results are consistent with guidelines recommending against genotype-guided prescribing of tamoxifen, and for the first time provide evidence supporting these guidelines in premenopausal women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)582-590
Number of pages9
JournalCancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Epidemiology
  • Oncology


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