Publications by authors named "Thomas Ahearn"

53 Publications

Circulating tumor DNA is readily detectable among Ghanaian breast cancer patients supporting non-invasive cancer genomic studies in Africa.

NPJ Precis Oncol 2021 Sep 17;5(1):83. Epub 2021 Sep 17.

Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD, USA.

Circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) sequencing studies could provide novel insights into the molecular pathology of cancer in sub-Saharan Africa. In 15 patient plasma samples collected at the time of diagnosis as part of the Ghana Breast Health Study and unselected for tumor grade and subtype, ctDNA was detected in a majority of patients based on whole- genome sequencing at high (30×) and low (0.1×) depths. Breast cancer driver copy number alterations were observed in the majority of patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41698-021-00219-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8448727PMC
September 2021

Discovery of structural deletions in breast cancer predisposition genes using whole genome sequencing data from > 2000 women of African-ancestry.

Hum Genet 2021 Oct 27;140(10):1449-1457. Epub 2021 Aug 27.

Division of Epidemiology, Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, TN, 37203-1738, Nashville, USA.

Single germline nucleotide pathogenic variants have been identified in 12 breast cancer predisposition genes, but structural deletions in these genes remain poorly characterized. We conducted in-depth whole genome sequencing (WGS) in genomic DNA samples obtained from 1340 invasive breast cancer cases and 675 controls of African ancestry. We identified 25 deletions in the intragenic regions of ten established breast cancer predisposition genes based on a consensus call from six state-of-the-art SV callers. Overall, no significant case-control difference was found in the frequency of these deletions. However, 1.0% of cases and 0.3% of controls carried any of the eight putative protein-truncating rare deletions located in BRCA1, BRCA2, CDH1, TP53, NF1, RAD51D, RAD51C and CHEK2, resulting in an odds ratio (OR) of 3.29 (95% CI 0.74-30.16). We also identified a low-frequency deletion in NF1 associated with breast cancer risk (OR 1.93, 95% CI 1.14-3.42). In addition, we detected 56 deletions, including six putative protein-truncating deletions, in suspected breast predisposition genes. This is the first large study to systematically search for structural deletions in breast cancer predisposition genes. Many of the deletions, particularly those resulting in protein truncations, are likely to be pathogenic. Results from this study, if confirmed in future large-scale studies, could have significant implications for genetic testing for this common cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00439-021-02342-8DOI Listing
October 2021

Association of germline genetic variants with breast cancer-specific survival in patient subgroups defined by clinic-pathological variables related to tumor biology and type of systemic treatment.

Breast Cancer Res 2021 08 18;23(1):86. Epub 2021 Aug 18.

Department of Medicine, Huntsman Cancer Institute, Salt Lake City, UT, USA.

Background: Given the high heterogeneity among breast tumors, associations between common germline genetic variants and survival that may exist within specific subgroups could go undetected in an unstratified set of breast cancer patients.

Methods: We performed genome-wide association analyses within 15 subgroups of breast cancer patients based on prognostic factors, including hormone receptors, tumor grade, age, and type of systemic treatment. Analyses were based on 91,686 female patients of European ancestry from the Breast Cancer Association Consortium, including 7531 breast cancer-specific deaths over a median follow-up of 8.1 years. Cox regression was used to assess associations of common germline variants with 15-year and 5-year breast cancer-specific survival. We assessed the probability of these associations being true positives via the Bayesian false discovery probability (BFDP < 0.15).

Results: Evidence of associations with breast cancer-specific survival was observed in three patient subgroups, with variant rs5934618 in patients with grade 3 tumors (15-year-hazard ratio (HR) [95% confidence interval (CI)] 1.32 [1.20, 1.45], P = 1.4E-08, BFDP = 0.01, per G allele); variant rs4679741 in patients with ER-positive tumors treated with endocrine therapy (15-year-HR [95% CI] 1.18 [1.11, 1.26], P = 1.6E-07, BFDP = 0.09, per G allele); variants rs1106333 (15-year-HR [95% CI] 1.68 [1.39,2.03], P = 5.6E-08, BFDP = 0.12, per A allele) and rs78754389 (5-year-HR [95% CI] 1.79 [1.46,2.20], P = 1.7E-08, BFDP = 0.07, per A allele), in patients with ER-negative tumors treated with chemotherapy.

Conclusions: We found evidence of four loci associated with breast cancer-specific survival within three patient subgroups. There was limited evidence for the existence of associations in other patient subgroups. However, the power for many subgroups is limited due to the low number of events. Even so, our results suggest that the impact of common germline genetic variants on breast cancer-specific survival might be limited.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13058-021-01450-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8371820PMC
August 2021

Genetic insights into biological mechanisms governing human ovarian ageing.

Nature 2021 08 4;596(7872):393-397. Epub 2021 Aug 4.

Genome Integrity and Instability Group, Institut de Biotecnologia i Biomedicina, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Cerdanyola del Vallès, Spain.

Reproductive longevity is essential for fertility and influences healthy ageing in women, but insights into its underlying biological mechanisms and treatments to preserve it are limited. Here we identify 290 genetic determinants of ovarian ageing, assessed using normal variation in age at natural menopause (ANM) in about 200,000 women of European ancestry. These common alleles were associated with clinical extremes of ANM; women in the top 1% of genetic susceptibility have an equivalent risk of premature ovarian insufficiency to those carrying monogenic FMR1 premutations. The identified loci implicate a broad range of DNA damage response (DDR) processes and include loss-of-function variants in key DDR-associated genes. Integration with experimental models demonstrates that these DDR processes act across the life-course to shape the ovarian reserve and its rate of depletion. Furthermore, we demonstrate that experimental manipulation of DDR pathways highlighted by human genetics increases fertility and extends reproductive life in mice. Causal inference analyses using the identified genetic variants indicate that extending reproductive life in women improves bone health and reduces risk of type 2 diabetes, but increases the risk of hormone-sensitive cancers. These findings provide insight into the mechanisms that govern ovarian ageing, when they act, and how they might be targeted by therapeutic approaches to extend fertility and prevent disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-03779-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7611832PMC
August 2021

Mendelian randomisation study of smoking exposure in relation to breast cancer risk.

Br J Cancer 2021 Oct 2;125(8):1135-1145. Epub 2021 Aug 2.

Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, MD, USA.

Background: Despite a modest association between tobacco smoking and breast cancer risk reported by recent epidemiological studies, it is still equivocal whether smoking is causally related to breast cancer risk.

Methods: We applied Mendelian randomisation (MR) to evaluate a potential causal effect of cigarette smoking on breast cancer risk. Both individual-level data as well as summary statistics for 164 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) reported in genome-wide association studies of lifetime smoking index (LSI) or cigarette per day (CPD) were used to obtain MR effect estimates. Data from 108,420 invasive breast cancer cases and 87,681 controls were used for the LSI analysis and for the CPD analysis conducted among ever-smokers from 26,147 cancer cases and 26,072 controls. Sensitivity analyses were conducted to address pleiotropy.

Results: Genetically predicted LSI was associated with increased breast cancer risk (OR 1.18 per SD, 95% CI: 1.07-1.30, P = 0.11 × 10), but there was no evidence of association for genetically predicted CPD (OR 1.02, 95% CI: 0.78-1.19, P = 0.85). The sensitivity analyses yielded similar results and showed no strong evidence of pleiotropic effect.

Conclusion: Our MR study provides supportive evidence for a potential causal association with breast cancer risk for lifetime smoking exposure but not cigarettes per day among smokers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41416-021-01432-8DOI Listing
October 2021

Cross-ancestry GWAS meta-analysis identifies six breast cancer loci in African and European ancestry women.

Nat Commun 2021 07 7;12(1):4198. Epub 2021 Jul 7.

Department of Epidemiology, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.

Our study describes breast cancer risk loci using a cross-ancestry GWAS approach. We first identify variants that are associated with breast cancer at P < 0.05 from African ancestry GWAS meta-analysis (9241 cases and 10193 controls), then meta-analyze with European ancestry GWAS data (122977 cases and 105974 controls) from the Breast Cancer Association Consortium. The approach identifies four loci for overall breast cancer risk [1p13.3, 5q31.1, 15q24 (two independent signals), and 15q26.3] and two loci for estrogen receptor-negative disease (1q41 and 7q11.23) at genome-wide significance. Four of the index single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) lie within introns of genes (KCNK2, C5orf56, SCAMP2, and SIN3A) and the other index SNPs are located close to GSTM4, AMPD2, CASTOR2, and RP11-168G16.2. Here we present risk loci with consistent direction of associations in African and European descendants. The study suggests that replication across multiple ancestry populations can help improve the understanding of breast cancer genetics and identify causal variants.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-24327-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8263739PMC
July 2021

Functional annotation of the 2q35 breast cancer risk locus implicates a structural variant in influencing activity of a long-range enhancer element.

Am J Hum Genet 2021 07 18;108(7):1190-1203. Epub 2021 Jun 18.

Genomic Epidemiology Group, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg 69120, Germany.

A combination of genetic and functional approaches has identified three independent breast cancer risk loci at 2q35. A recent fine-scale mapping analysis to refine these associations resulted in 1 (signal 1), 5 (signal 2), and 42 (signal 3) credible causal variants at these loci. We used publicly available in silico DNase I and ChIP-seq data with in vitro reporter gene and CRISPR assays to annotate signals 2 and 3. We identified putative regulatory elements that enhanced cell-type-specific transcription from the IGFBP5 promoter at both signals (30- to 40-fold increased expression by the putative regulatory element at signal 2, 2- to 3-fold by the putative regulatory element at signal 3). We further identified one of the five credible causal variants at signal 2, a 1.4 kb deletion (esv3594306), as the likely causal variant; the deletion allele of this variant was associated with an average additional increase in IGFBP5 expression of 1.3-fold (MCF-7) and 2.2-fold (T-47D). We propose a model in which the deletion allele of esv3594306 juxtaposes two transcription factor binding regions (annotated by estrogen receptor alpha ChIP-seq peaks) to generate a single extended regulatory element. This regulatory element increases cell-type-specific expression of the tumor suppressor gene IGFBP5 and, thereby, reduces risk of estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer (odds ratio = 0.77, 95% CI 0.74-0.81, p = 3.1 × 10).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2021.05.013DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8322933PMC
July 2021

Tumor-Associated Stromal Cellular Density as a Predictor of Recurrence and Mortality in Breast Cancer: Results from Ethnically Diverse Study Populations.

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2021 Jul 5;30(7):1397-1407. Epub 2021 May 5.

Integrative Tumor Epidemiology Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, NCI, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland.

Purpose: Tumor-associated stroma is comprised of fibroblasts, tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL), macrophages, endothelial cells, and other cells that interactively influence tumor progression through inflammation and wound repair. Although gene-expression signatures reflecting wound repair predict breast cancer survival, it is unclear whether combined density of tumor-associated stromal cells, a morphologic proxy for inflammation and wound repair signatures on routine hematoxylin and eosin (H&E)-stained sections, is of prognostic relevance.

Methods: By applying machine learning to digitized H&E-stained sections for 2,084 breast cancer patients from China ( = 596; 24-55 years), Poland ( = 810; 31-75 years), and the United States ( = 678; 55-78 years), we characterized tumor-associated stromal cellular density (SCD) as the percentage of tumor-stroma that is occupied by nucleated cells. Hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for associations between SCD and clinical outcomes [recurrence (China) and mortality (Poland and the United States)] were estimated using Cox proportional hazard regression, adjusted for clinical variables.

Results: SCD was independently predictive of poor clinical outcomes in hormone receptor-positive (luminal) tumors from China [multivariable HR (95% CI) = 1.86 (1.06-3.26); = 0.03], Poland [HR (95% CI) = 1.80 (1.12-2.89); = 0.01], and the United States [HR (95% CI) = 2.42 (1.33-4.42); = 0.002]. In general, SCD provided more prognostic information than most classic clinicopathologic factors, including grade, size, PR, HER2, IHC4, and TILs, predicting clinical outcomes irrespective of menopausal or lymph nodal status. SCD was not predictive of outcomes in hormone receptor-negative tumors.

Conclusions: Our findings support the independent prognostic value of tumor-associated SCD among ethnically diverse luminal breast cancer patients.

Impact: Assessment of tumor-associated SCD on standard H&E could help refine prognostic assessment and therapeutic decision making in luminal breast cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-21-0055DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8254774PMC
July 2021

Evaluating Polygenic Risk Scores for Breast Cancer in Women of African Ancestry.

J Natl Cancer Inst 2021 Sep;113(9):1168-1176

Department of Oncology, Centre for Cancer Genetic Epidemiology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.

Background: Polygenic risk scores (PRSs) have been demonstrated to identify women of European, Asian, and Latino ancestry at elevated risk of developing breast cancer (BC). We evaluated the performance of existing PRSs trained in European ancestry populations among women of African ancestry.

Methods: We assembled genotype data for women of African ancestry, including 9241 case subjects and 10 193 control subjects. We evaluated associations of 179- and 313-variant PRSs with overall and subtype-specific BC risk. PRS discriminatory accuracy was assessed using area under the receiver operating characteristic curve. We also evaluated a recalibrated PRS, replacing the index variant with variants in each region that better captured risk in women of African ancestry and estimated lifetime absolute risk of BC in African Americans by PRS category.

Results: For overall BC, the odds ratio per SD of the 313-variant PRS (PRS313) was 1.27 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.23 to 1.31), with an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of 0.571 (95% CI = 0.562 to 0.579). Compared with women with average risk (40th-60th PRS percentile), women in the top decile of PRS313 had a 1.54-fold increased risk (95% CI = 1.38-fold to 1.72-fold). By age 85 years, the absolute risk of overall BC was 19.6% for African American women in the top 1% of PRS313 and 6.7% for those in the lowest 1%. The recalibrated PRS did not improve BC risk prediction.

Conclusion: The PRSs stratify BC risk in women of African ancestry, with attenuated performance compared with that reported in European, Asian, and Latina populations. Future work is needed to improve BC risk stratification for women of African ancestry.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jnci/djab050DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8418423PMC
September 2021

A case-only study to identify genetic modifiers of breast cancer risk for BRCA1/BRCA2 mutation carriers.

Nat Commun 2021 02 17;12(1):1078. Epub 2021 Feb 17.

Copenhagen General Population Study, Herlev and Gentofte Hospital Copenhagen University Hospital, Herlev, Denmark.

Breast cancer (BC) risk for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers varies by genetic and familial factors. About 50 common variants have been shown to modify BC risk for mutation carriers. All but three, were identified in general population studies. Other mutation carrier-specific susceptibility variants may exist but studies of mutation carriers have so far been underpowered. We conduct a novel case-only genome-wide association study comparing genotype frequencies between 60,212 general population BC cases and 13,007 cases with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations. We identify robust novel associations for 2 variants with BC for BRCA1 and 3 for BRCA2 mutation carriers, P < 10, at 5 loci, which are not associated with risk in the general population. They include rs60882887 at 11p11.2 where MADD, SP11 and EIF1, genes previously implicated in BC biology, are predicted as potential targets. These findings will contribute towards customising BC polygenic risk scores for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-20496-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7890067PMC
February 2021

Breast Cancer Risk Factors and Survival by Tumor Subtype: Pooled Analyses from the Breast Cancer Association Consortium.

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2021 04 26;30(4):623-642. Epub 2021 Jan 26.

Gynaecology Research Unit, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany.

Background: It is not known whether modifiable lifestyle factors that predict survival after invasive breast cancer differ by subtype.

Methods: We analyzed data for 121,435 women diagnosed with breast cancer from 67 studies in the Breast Cancer Association Consortium with 16,890 deaths (8,554 breast cancer specific) over 10 years. Cox regression was used to estimate associations between risk factors and 10-year all-cause mortality and breast cancer-specific mortality overall, by estrogen receptor (ER) status, and by intrinsic-like subtype.

Results: There was no evidence of heterogeneous associations between risk factors and mortality by subtype ( > 0.30). The strongest associations were between all-cause mortality and BMI ≥30 versus 18.5-25 kg/m [HR (95% confidence interval (CI), 1.19 (1.06-1.34)]; current versus never smoking [1.37 (1.27-1.47)], high versus low physical activity [0.43 (0.21-0.86)], age ≥30 years versus <20 years at first pregnancy [0.79 (0.72-0.86)]; >0-<5 years versus ≥10 years since last full-term birth [1.31 (1.11-1.55)]; ever versus never use of oral contraceptives [0.91 (0.87-0.96)]; ever versus never use of menopausal hormone therapy, including current estrogen-progestin therapy [0.61 (0.54-0.69)]. Similar associations with breast cancer mortality were weaker; for example, 1.11 (1.02-1.21) for current versus never smoking.

Conclusions: We confirm associations between modifiable lifestyle factors and 10-year all-cause mortality. There was no strong evidence that associations differed by ER status or intrinsic-like subtype.

Impact: Given the large dataset and lack of evidence that associations between modifiable risk factors and 10-year mortality differed by subtype, these associations could be cautiously used in prognostication models to inform patient-centered care.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-20-0924DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8026532PMC
April 2021

CYP3A7*1C allele: linking premenopausal oestrone and progesterone levels with risk of hormone receptor-positive breast cancers.

Br J Cancer 2021 02 26;124(4):842-854. Epub 2021 Jan 26.

Molecular Epidemiology Group, C080, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg, Germany.

Background: Epidemiological studies provide strong evidence for a role of endogenous sex hormones in the aetiology of breast cancer. The aim of this analysis was to identify genetic variants that are associated with urinary sex-hormone levels and breast cancer risk.

Methods: We carried out a genome-wide association study of urinary oestrone-3-glucuronide and pregnanediol-3-glucuronide levels in 560 premenopausal women, with additional analysis of progesterone levels in 298 premenopausal women. To test for the association with breast cancer risk, we carried out follow-up genotyping in 90,916 cases and 89,893 controls from the Breast Cancer Association Consortium. All women were of European ancestry.

Results: For pregnanediol-3-glucuronide, there were no genome-wide significant associations; for oestrone-3-glucuronide, we identified a single peak mapping to the CYP3A locus, annotated by rs45446698. The minor rs45446698-C allele was associated with lower oestrone-3-glucuronide (-49.2%, 95% CI -56.1% to -41.1%, P = 3.1 × 10); in follow-up analyses, rs45446698-C was also associated with lower progesterone (-26.7%, 95% CI -39.4% to -11.6%, P = 0.001) and reduced risk of oestrogen and progesterone receptor-positive breast cancer (OR = 0.86, 95% CI 0.82-0.91, P = 6.9 × 10).

Conclusions: The CYP3A7*1C allele is associated with reduced risk of hormone receptor-positive breast cancer possibly mediated via an effect on the metabolism of endogenous sex hormones in premenopausal women.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41416-020-01185-wDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7884683PMC
February 2021

Breast Cancer Risk Genes - Association Analysis in More than 113,000 Women.

N Engl J Med 2021 02 20;384(5):428-439. Epub 2021 Jan 20.

The authors' affiliations are as follows: the Centre for Cancer Genetic Epidemiology, Departments of Public Health and Primary Care (L.D., S. Carvalho, J.A., K.A.P., Q.W., M.K.B., J.D., B.D., N. Mavaddat, K. Michailidou, A.C.A., P.D.P.P., D.F.E.) and Oncology (C.L., P.A.H., C. Baynes, D.M.C., L.F., V.R., M. Shah, P.D.P.P., A.M.D., D.F.E.), University of Cambridge, Cambridge, the Centre for Genomic and Experimental Medicine, MRC Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine (A. Campbell, D.J.P.), and the Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, Department of Psychology (D.J.P.), University of Edinburgh, the Cancer Research UK Edinburgh Centre (D.A.C., J.F.), and the Usher Institute of Population Health Sciences and Informatics, University of Edinburgh Medical School (A. Campbell, J.F.), Edinburgh, the Divisions of Informatics, Imaging, and Data Sciences (E.F.H.), Cancer Sciences (A. Howell), Population Health, Health Services Research, and Primary Care (A. Lophatananon, K. Muir), and Evolution and Genomic Sciences, School of Biological Sciences (W.G.N., E.M.V., D.G.E.), University of Manchester, the NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Unit (E.F.H.) and the Nightingale Breast Screening Centre, Wythenshawe Hospital (E.F.H., H.I.), Academic Health Science Centre and North West Genomics Laboratory Hub, and the Manchester Centre for Genomic Medicine, St. Mary's Hospital, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (W.G.N., E.M.V., D.G.E.), Manchester, the School of Cancer and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Comprehensive Cancer Centre, Guy's Campus, King's College London, London (E.J.S.), the Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham (I.T.), and the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics and Oxford NIHR Biomedical Research Centre, University of Oxford, Oxford (I.T.) - all in the United Kingdom; the Human Genotyping-CEGEN Unit, Human Cancer Genetic Program (A.G.-N., M.R.A., N.Á., B.H., R.N.-T.), and the Human Genetics Group (V.F., A.O., J.B.), Spanish National Cancer Research Center, Centro de Investigación en Red de Enfermedades Raras (A.O., J.B.), Servicio de Oncología Médica, Hospital Universitario La Paz (M.P.Z.), and Molecular Oncology Laboratory, Hospital Clinico San Carlos, Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria del Hospital Clínico San Carlos (M. de la Hoya), Madrid, the Genomic Medicine Group, Galician Foundation of Genomic Medicine, Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria de Santiago de Compostela, Complejo Hospitalario Universitario de Santiago (A. Carracedo, M.G.-D.), and Centro de Investigación en Red de Enfermedades Raras y Centro Nacional de Genotipado, Universidad de Santiago de Compostela (A. Carracedo), Santiago de Compostela, the Oncology and Genetics Unit, Instituto de Investigacion Sanitaria Galicia Sur, Xerencia de Xestion Integrada de Vigo-Servizo Galeo de Saúde, Vigo (J.E.C.), and Servicio de Cirugía General y Especialidades, Hospital Monte Naranco, Oviedo (J.I.A.P.) - all in Spain; the Division of Oncology and Pathology, Department of Clinical Sciences Lund, Lund University, Lund (C. Wahlström, J.V., M.L., T. Törngren, Å.B., A.K.), the Department of Oncology, Örebro University Hospital, Örebro (C. Blomqvist), and the Departments of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics (K.C., M.E., M.G., P. Hall, W.H., K.H.), Oncology, Södersjukhuset (P. Hall, S. Margolin), Molecular Medicine and Surgery (A. Lindblom), and Clinical Science and Education, Södersjukhuset (S. Margolin, C. Wendt), Karolinska Institutet, and the Department of Clinical Genetics, Karolinska University Hospital (A. Lindblom), Stockholm - all in Sweden; the Department of Genetics and Computational Biology, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane, QLD (M.T.P., C.F., G.C.-T., A.B.S.), the Cancer Epidemiology Division, Cancer Council Victoria (G.G.G., R.J.M., R.L.M.), the Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health (G.G.G., R.J.M., R.L.M.), and the Department of Clinical Pathology (M.C.S.), University of Melbourne, Anatomical Pathology, Alfred Hospital (C.M.), and the Cancer Epidemiology Division, Cancer Council Victoria (M.C.S.), Melbourne, VIC, and Precision Medicine, School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health, Monash University, Clayton, VIC (G.G.G., M.C.S., R.L.M.) - all in Australia; the Division of Molecular Pathology (R.K., S. Cornelissen, M.K.S.), Family Cancer Clinic (F.B.L.H., L.E.K.), Department of Epidemiology (M.A.R.), and Division of Psychosocial Research and Epidemiology (M.K.S.), the Netherlands Cancer Institute-Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital, Amsterdam, Division Laboratories, Pharmacy and Biomedical Genetics, Department of Genetics, University Medical Center, Utrecht (M.G.E.M.A.), the Department of Clinical Genetics, Erasmus University Medical Center (J.M.C., A.M.W.O.), and the Department of Medical Oncology, Family Cancer Clinic, Erasmus MC Cancer Institute (B.A.M.H.-G., A. Hollestelle, M.J.H.), Rotterdam, the Department of Clinical Genetics, Maastricht University Medical Center, Maastricht (E.B.G.G.), the Departments of Human Genetics (I.M.M.L., M.P.G.V., P.D.), Clinical Genetics (C.J.A.), and Pathology (P.D.), Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, the Department of Human Genetics, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen (A.R.M.), and the Department of Genetics, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen (J.C.O.) - all in the Netherlands; the Cancer Genetics and Comparative Genomics Branch, National Human Genome Research Institute (B.D.), and the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute (T.A., S.J.C., X.R.Y., M.G.-C.), National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD; the Department of Pathology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School (B.D.), and the Department of Nutrition, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (R.M.V.D.), Boston; the Departments of Clinical Genetics (K.A.), Oncology (C. Blomqvist), and Obstetrics and Gynecology (H.N., M. Suvanto), Helsinki University Hospital, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, and the Unit of Clinical Oncology, Kuopio University Hospital (P. Auvinen), the Institute of Clinical Medicine, Oncology (P. Auvinen), the Translational Cancer Research Area (J.M.H., V.-M.K., A. Mannermaa), and the Institute of Clinical Medicine, Pathology, and Forensic Medicine (J.M.H., V.-M.K., A. Mannermaa), University of Eastern Finland, and the Biobank of Eastern Finland, Kuopio University Hospital (V.-M.K., A. Mannermaa), Kuopio - both in Finland; the N.N. Alexandrov Research Institute of Oncology and Medical Radiology, Minsk, Belarus (N.N.A., N.V.B.); the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics and Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology, University Hospital of Schleswig-Holstein, Campus Kiel, Christian-Albrechts University Kiel, Kiel (N.A.), the Institute of Medical Biometry and Epidemiology (H. Becher) and Cancer Epidemiology Group (T.M., J.C.-C.), University Cancer Center Hamburg, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics (M.W.B., P.A.F., L.H.) and Institute of Human Genetics (A.B.E.), University Hospital Erlangen, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Comprehensive Cancer Center Erlangen-European Metropolitan Region of Nuremberg, Erlangen, the Division of Cancer Epidemiology (S.B., A. Jung, P.M.K., J.C.-C.), Molecular Epidemiology Group, C080 (B. Burwinkel, H.S.), Division of Pediatric Neurooncology (A.F.), and Molecular Genetics of Breast Cancer (U.H., M.M., M.U.R., D.T.), German Cancer Research Center, Molecular Biology of Breast Cancer, University Women's Clinic Heidelberg, University of Heidelberg (B. Burwinkel, A.S., H.S.), Hopp Children's Cancer Center (A.F.), Faculty of Medicine, University of Heidelberg (P.M.K.), and National Center for Tumor Diseases, University Hospital and German Cancer Research Center (A.S., C.S.), Heidelberg, the Department of Radiation Oncology (N.V.B., M. Bremer, H.C.) and the Gynecology Research Unit (N.V.B., T.D., P. Hillemanns, T.-W.P.-S., P.S.), Hannover Medical School, Hannover, the Institute of Human Genetics, University of Münster, Münster (N.B.-M.), Dr. Margarete Fischer-Bosch-Institute of Clinical Pharmacology, Stuttgart (H. Brauch, W.-Y.L.), iFIT-Cluster of Excellence, University of Tübingen, and the German Cancer Consortium, German Cancer Research Center, Partner Site Tübingen (H. Brauch), and the University of Tübingen (W.-Y.L.), Tübingen, Institute for Prevention and Occupational Medicine of the German Social Accident Insurance, Institute of the Ruhr University Bochum, Bochum (T.B.), Institute for Medical Informatics, Statistics, and Epidemiology, University of Leipzig, Leipzig (C.E.), Center for Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer (E.H., R.K.S.) and Center for Integrated Oncology (E.H., R.K.S.), Faculty of Medicine and University Hospital Cologne, University of Cologne, Cologne, the Department of Internal Medicine, Evangelische Kliniken Bonn, Johanniter Krankenhaus, Bonn (Y.-D.K.), the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, University of Munich, Campus Großhadern, Munich (A. Meindl), and the Institute of Pathology, Städtisches Klinikum Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe (T.R.) - all in Germany; the Gynecological Cancer Registry, Centre Georges-François Leclerc, Dijon (P. Arveux), and the Center for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health, Team Exposome and Heredity, INSERM, University Paris-Saclay, Villejuif (E.C.-D., P.G., T. Truong) - both in France; the Institute of Biochemistry and Genetics, Ufa Federal Research Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences (M. Bermisheva, E.K.), the Department of Genetics and Fundamental Medicine, Bashkir State University (E.K., D.P., Y.V.), and the Ufa Research Institute of Occupational Health and Human Ecology (Y.V.), Ufa, Russia; the Department of Genetics and Pathology (K.B., A. Jakubowska, J. Lubiński, K.P.) and the Independent Laboratory of Molecular Biology and Genetic Diagnostics (A. Jakubowska), Pomeranian Medical University, Szczecin, Poland; the Copenhagen General Population Study, the Department of Clinical Biochemistry (S.E.B., B.G.N.), and the Department of Breast Surgery (H.F.), Herlev and Gentofte Hospital, Copenhagen University Hospital, Herlev, and the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen (S.E.B., B.G.N.) - both in Denmark; the Division of Cancer Prevention and Genetics, European Institute of Oncology Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico (IRCCS) (B. Bonanni), the Unit of Medical Genetics, Department of Medical Oncology and Hematology, Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori di Milano (S. Manoukian), the Genome Diagnostics Program, FIRC Institute of Molecular Oncology (P.P.), and the Unit of Molecular Bases of Genetic Risk and Genetic Testing, Department of Research, Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori (P.R.), Milan; the Department of Cancer Genetics, Institute for Cancer Research, Oslo University Hospital-Radiumhospitalet (A.-L.B.-D., G.I.G.A., V.N.K.), and the Institute of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo (A.-L.B.-D., V.N.K.), Oslo; Medical Faculty, Universidad de La Sabana (I.B.), and the Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics Department (F.G.) and Institute of Human Genetics (D.T.), Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Bogota, Colombia; the Department of Internal Medicine and Huntsman Cancer Institute, University of Utah (N.J.C., M.J.M., J.A.W.), and the Intermountain Healthcare Biorepository and Department of Pathology, Intermountain Healthcare (M.H.C.), Salt Lake City; the David Geffen School of Medicine, Department of Medicine Division of Hematology and Oncology, University of California, Los Angeles (P.A.F.), and Moores Cancer Center (M.G.-D., M.E.M.) and the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health (M.E.M.), University of California San Diego, La Jolla; the Departments of Medical Oncology (V.G., D.M.) and Pathology (M.T.), University Hospital of Heraklion, Heraklion, and the Department of Oncology, University Hospital of Larissa, Larissa (E.S.) - both in Greece; the Fred A. Litwin Center for Cancer Genetics, Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital (G.G., I.L.A.), the Departments of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology (A.M.M.) and Molecular Genetics (I.L.A.), University of Toronto, and the Laboratory Medicine Program, University Health Network (A.M.M.), Toronto, and the Genomics Center, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Québec-Université Laval Research Center, Québec City, QC (J.S.) - both in Canada; the Department of Electron Microscopy and Molecular Pathology (A. Hadjisavvas, K.K., M.A.L.), the Cyprus School of Molecular Medicine (A. Hadjisavvas, K.K., M.A.L., K. Michailidou), and the Biostatistics Unit (K. Michailidou), Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics, Nicosia, Cyprus; the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health (M. Hartman, R.M.V.D.) and the Department of Medicine, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine (R.M.V.D.), National University of Singapore, the Department of Surgery, National University Health System (M. Hartman, J. Li), and the Human Genetics Division, Genome Institute of Singapore (J. Li), Singapore; the Department of Mathematical Sciences, Faculty of Science and Engineering, University of Nottingham Malaysia (W.K.H.), and the Breast Cancer Research Programme, Cancer Research Malaysia (W.K.H., P.S.N., S.-Y.Y., S.H.T.), Selangor, and the Breast Cancer Research Unit, Cancer Research Institute (N.A.M.T.), and the Department of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine (N.A.M.T., P.S.N., S.H.T.), University Malaya, Kuala Lumpur - both in Malaysia; Surgery, School of Medicine, National University of Ireland, Galway (M.J.K., N. Miller); the Department of Surgery, Daerim Saint Mary's Hospital (S.-W.K.), the Department of Surgery, Ulsan University College of Medicine and Asan Medical Center (J.W.L.), the Department of Surgery, Soonchunhyang University College of Medicine and Soonchunhyang University Hospital (M.H.L.), Integrated Major in Innovative Medical Science, Seoul National University College of Medicine (S.K.P.), and the Cancer Research Institute, Seoul National University (S.K.P.), Seoul, South Korea; the Department of Basic Sciences, Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Center, Lahore, Pakistan (M.U.R.); and the National Cancer Institute, Ministry of Public Health, Nonthaburi, Thailand (S.T.).

Background: Genetic testing for breast cancer susceptibility is widely used, but for many genes, evidence of an association with breast cancer is weak, underlying risk estimates are imprecise, and reliable subtype-specific risk estimates are lacking.

Methods: We used a panel of 34 putative susceptibility genes to perform sequencing on samples from 60,466 women with breast cancer and 53,461 controls. In separate analyses for protein-truncating variants and rare missense variants in these genes, we estimated odds ratios for breast cancer overall and tumor subtypes. We evaluated missense-variant associations according to domain and classification of pathogenicity.

Results: Protein-truncating variants in 5 genes (, , , , and ) were associated with a risk of breast cancer overall with a P value of less than 0.0001. Protein-truncating variants in 4 other genes (, , , and ) were associated with a risk of breast cancer overall with a P value of less than 0.05 and a Bayesian false-discovery probability of less than 0.05. For protein-truncating variants in 19 of the remaining 25 genes, the upper limit of the 95% confidence interval of the odds ratio for breast cancer overall was less than 2.0. For protein-truncating variants in and , odds ratios were higher for estrogen receptor (ER)-positive disease than for ER-negative disease; for protein-truncating variants in , , , , , and , odds ratios were higher for ER-negative disease than for ER-positive disease. Rare missense variants (in aggregate) in , , and were associated with a risk of breast cancer overall with a P value of less than 0.001. For , , and , missense variants (in aggregate) that would be classified as pathogenic according to standard criteria were associated with a risk of breast cancer overall, with the risk being similar to that of protein-truncating variants.

Conclusions: The results of this study define the genes that are most clinically useful for inclusion on panels for the prediction of breast cancer risk, as well as provide estimates of the risks associated with protein-truncating variants, to guide genetic counseling. (Funded by European Union Horizon 2020 programs and others.).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1056/NEJMoa1913948DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7611105PMC
February 2021

Associations of fecal microbial profiles with breast cancer and nonmalignant breast disease in the Ghana Breast Health Study.

Int J Cancer 2021 06 26;148(11):2712-2723. Epub 2021 Feb 26.

Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.

The gut microbiota may play a role in breast cancer etiology by regulating hormonal, metabolic and immunologic pathways. We investigated associations of fecal bacteria with breast cancer and nonmalignant breast disease in a case-control study conducted in Ghana, a country with rising breast cancer incidence and mortality. To do this, we sequenced the V4 region of the 16S rRNA gene to characterize bacteria in fecal samples collected at the time of breast biopsy (N = 379 breast cancer cases, N = 102 nonmalignant breast disease cases, N = 414 population-based controls). We estimated associations of alpha diversity (observed amplicon sequence variants [ASVs], Shannon index, and Faith's phylogenetic diversity), beta diversity (Bray-Curtis and unweighted/weighted UniFrac distance), and the presence and relative abundance of select taxa with breast cancer and nonmalignant breast disease using multivariable unconditional polytomous logistic regression. All alpha diversity metrics were strongly, inversely associated with odds of breast cancer and for those in the highest relative to lowest tertile of observed ASVs, the odds ratio (95% confidence interval) was 0.21 (0.13-0.36; P < .001). Alpha diversity associations were similar for nonmalignant breast disease and breast cancer grade/molecular subtype. All beta diversity distance matrices and multiple taxa with possible estrogen-conjugating and immune-related functions were strongly associated with breast cancer (all Ps < .001). There were no statistically significant differences between breast cancer and nonmalignant breast disease cases in any microbiota metric. In conclusion, fecal bacterial characteristics were strongly and similarly associated with breast cancer and nonmalignant breast disease. Our findings provide novel insight into potential microbially-mediated mechanisms of breast disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ijc.33473DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8386185PMC
June 2021

Genetic ablation of FASN attenuates the invasive potential of prostate cancer driven by Pten loss.

J Pathol 2021 03 11;253(3):292-303. Epub 2020 Dec 11.

Department of Oncologic Pathology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA, USA.

Loss of the tumor suppressor gene Pten in murine prostate recapitulates human carcinogenesis and causes stromal proliferation surrounding murine prostate intraepithelial neoplasia (mPIN), which is reactive to microinvasion. In turn, invasion has been shown to be regulated in part by de novo fatty acid synthesis in prostate cancer. We therefore investigated the effects of genetic ablation of Fasn on invasive potential in prostate-specific Pten knockout mice. Combined genetic ablation of Fasn and Pten reduced the weight and volume of all the prostate lobes when compared to single knockouts. The stromal reaction to microinvasion and the cell proliferation that typically occurs in Pten knockout were largely abolished by Fasn knockout. To verify that Fasn knockout indeed results in decreased invasive potential, we show that genetic ablation and pharmacologic inhibition of FASN in prostate cancer cells significantly inhibit cellular motility and invasion. Finally, combined loss of PTEN with FASN overexpression was associated with lethality as assessed in 660 prostate cancer patients with 14.2 years of median follow-up. Taken together, these findings show that de novo lipogenesis contributes to the aggressive phenotype induced by Pten loss in murine prostate and targeting Fasn may reduce the invasive potential of prostate cancer driven by Pten loss. © 2020 The Authors. The Journal of Pathology published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. on behalf of The Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/path.5587DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7898611PMC
March 2021

Germline HOXB13 mutations p.G84E and p.R217C do not confer an increased breast cancer risk.

Sci Rep 2020 06 16;10(1):9688. Epub 2020 Jun 16.

Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany.

In breast cancer, high levels of homeobox protein Hox-B13 (HOXB13) have been associated with disease progression of ER-positive breast cancer patients and resistance to tamoxifen treatment. Since HOXB13 p.G84E is a prostate cancer risk allele, we evaluated the association between HOXB13 germline mutations and breast cancer risk in a previous study consisting of 3,270 familial non-BRCA1/2 breast cancer cases and 2,327 controls from the Netherlands. Although both recurrent HOXB13 mutations p.G84E and p.R217C were not associated with breast cancer risk, the risk estimation for p.R217C was not very precise. To provide more conclusive evidence regarding the role of HOXB13 in breast cancer susceptibility, we here evaluated the association between HOXB13 mutations and increased breast cancer risk within 81 studies of the international Breast Cancer Association Consortium containing 68,521 invasive breast cancer patients and 54,865 controls. Both HOXB13 p.G84E and p.R217C did not associate with the development of breast cancer in European women, neither in the overall analysis (OR = 1.035, 95% CI = 0.859-1.246, P = 0.718 and OR = 0.798, 95% CI = 0.482-1.322, P = 0.381 respectively), nor in specific high-risk subgroups or breast cancer subtypes. Thus, although involved in breast cancer progression, HOXB13 is not a material breast cancer susceptibility gene.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-65665-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7297796PMC
June 2020

Genome-wide association study identifies 32 novel breast cancer susceptibility loci from overall and subtype-specific analyses.

Nat Genet 2020 06 18;52(6):572-581. Epub 2020 May 18.

Molecular Medicine Unit, Fundación Pública Galega de Medicina Xenómica, Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

Breast cancer susceptibility variants frequently show heterogeneity in associations by tumor subtype. To identify novel loci, we performed a genome-wide association study including 133,384 breast cancer cases and 113,789 controls, plus 18,908 BRCA1 mutation carriers (9,414 with breast cancer) of European ancestry, using both standard and novel methodologies that account for underlying tumor heterogeneity by estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 status and tumor grade. We identified 32 novel susceptibility loci (P < 5.0 × 10), 15 of which showed evidence for associations with at least one tumor feature (false discovery rate < 0.05). Five loci showed associations (P < 0.05) in opposite directions between luminal and non-luminal subtypes. In silico analyses showed that these five loci contained cell-specific enhancers that differed between normal luminal and basal mammary cells. The genetic correlations between five intrinsic-like subtypes ranged from 0.35 to 0.80. The proportion of genome-wide chip heritability explained by all known susceptibility loci was 54.2% for luminal A-like disease and 37.6% for triple-negative disease. The odds ratios of polygenic risk scores, which included 330 variants, for the highest 1% of quantiles compared with middle quantiles were 5.63 and 3.02 for luminal A-like and triple-negative disease, respectively. These findings provide an improved understanding of genetic predisposition to breast cancer subtypes and will inform the development of subtype-specific polygenic risk scores.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-020-0609-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7808397PMC
June 2020

Combined Associations of a Polygenic Risk Score and Classical Risk Factors With Breast Cancer Risk.

J Natl Cancer Inst 2021 03;113(3):329-337

Division of Cancer Epidemiology, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg, Germany.

We evaluated the joint associations between a new 313-variant PRS (PRS313) and questionnaire-based breast cancer risk factors for women of European ancestry, using 72 284 cases and 80 354 controls from the Breast Cancer Association Consortium. Interactions were evaluated using standard logistic regression and a newly developed case-only method for breast cancer risk overall and by estrogen receptor status. After accounting for multiple testing, we did not find evidence that per-standard deviation PRS313 odds ratio differed across strata defined by individual risk factors. Goodness-of-fit tests did not reject the assumption of a multiplicative model between PRS313 and each risk factor. Variation in projected absolute lifetime risk of breast cancer associated with classical risk factors was greater for women with higher genetic risk (PRS313 and family history) and, on average, 17.5% higher in the highest vs lowest deciles of genetic risk. These findings have implications for risk prevention for women at increased risk of breast cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jnci/djaa056DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7936056PMC
March 2021

A mixed-model approach for powerful testing of genetic associations with cancer risk incorporating tumor characteristics.

Biostatistics 2021 Oct;22(4):772-788

Department of Biostatistics, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg SPH, 615 N Wolfe St, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA; Department of Oncology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine SPH, 733 N Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA and Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg SPH, 615 N Wolfe St, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.

Cancers are routinely classified into subtypes according to various features, including histopathological characteristics and molecular markers. Previous genome-wide association studies have reported heterogeneous associations between loci and cancer subtypes. However, it is not evident what is the optimal modeling strategy for handling correlated tumor features, missing data, and increased degrees-of-freedom in the underlying tests of associations. We propose to test for genetic associations using a mixed-effect two-stage polytomous model score test (MTOP). In the first stage, a standard polytomous model is used to specify all possible subtypes defined by the cross-classification of the tumor characteristics. In the second stage, the subtype-specific case-control odds ratios are specified using a more parsimonious model based on the case-control odds ratio for a baseline subtype, and the case-case parameters associated with tumor markers. Further, to reduce the degrees-of-freedom, we specify case-case parameters for additional exploratory markers using a random-effect model. We use the Expectation-Maximization algorithm to account for missing data on tumor markers. Through simulations across a range of realistic scenarios and data from the Polish Breast Cancer Study (PBCS), we show MTOP outperforms alternative methods for identifying heterogeneous associations between risk loci and tumor subtypes. The proposed methods have been implemented in a user-friendly and high-speed R statistical package called TOP (https://github.com/andrewhaoyu/TOP).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/biostatistics/kxz065DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8511944PMC
October 2021

Reproductive factors and risk of breast cancer by tumor subtypes among Ghanaian women: A population-based case-control study.

Int J Cancer 2020 09 13;147(6):1535-1547. Epub 2020 Mar 13.

Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD.

Higher proportions of early-onset and estrogen receptor (ER) negative cancers are observed in women of African ancestry than in women of European ancestry. Differences in risk factor distributions and associations by age at diagnosis and ER status may explain this disparity. We analyzed data from 1,126 cases (aged 18-74 years) with invasive breast cancer and 2,106 controls recruited from a population-based case-control study in Ghana. Odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated for menstrual and reproductive factors using polytomous logistic regression models adjusted for potential confounders. Among controls, medians for age at menarche, parity, age at first birth, and breastfeeding/pregnancy were 15 years, 4 births, 20 years and 18 months, respectively. For women ≥50 years, parity and extended breastfeeding were associated with decreased risks: >5 births vs. nulliparous, OR 0.40 (95% CI 0.20-0.83) and 0.71 (95% CI 0.51-0.98) for ≥19 vs. <13 breastfeeding months/pregnancy, which did not differ by ER. In contrast, for earlier onset cases (<50 years) parity was associated with increased risk for ER-negative tumors (p-heterogeneity by ER = 0.02), which was offset by extended breastfeeding. Similar associations were observed by intrinsic-like subtypes. Less consistent relationships were observed with ages at menarche and first birth. Reproductive risk factor distributions are different from European populations but exhibited etiologic heterogeneity by age at diagnosis and ER status similar to other populations. Differences in reproductive patterns and subtype heterogeneity are consistent with racial disparities in subtype distributions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ijc.32929DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8380990PMC
September 2020

Statin Use Is Associated with Lower Risk of PTEN-Null and Lethal Prostate Cancer.

Clin Cancer Res 2020 03 21;26(5):1086-1093. Epub 2019 Nov 21.

Department of Epidemiology, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts.

Purpose: Statins are associated with lower risk of aggressive prostate cancer, but lethal prostate cancer is understudied and contributing mechanisms are unclear. We prospectively examined statins and lethal prostate cancer risk in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS), tested associations with molecular subtypes, and integrated gene expression profiling to identify putative mechanisms.

Experimental Design: Our study included 44,126 men cancer-free in 1990, followed for prostate cancer incidence through 2014, with statin use recorded on biennial questionnaires. We used multivariable Cox regression to examine associations between statins and prostate cancer risk overall, by measures of clinically significant disease, and by ERG and PTEN status. In an exploratory analysis, age-adjusted gene set enrichment analysis identified statin-associated pathways enriched in tumor and adjacent normal prostate tissue.

Results: During 24 years of follow-up, 6,305 prostate cancers were diagnosed and 801 (13%) were lethal (metastatic at diagnosis or metastatic/fatal during follow-up). Relative to never/past use, current statin use was inversely associated with risk of lethal prostate cancer [HR, 0.76; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.60-0.96] but not overall disease. We found a strong inverse association for risk of PTEN-null cancers (HR, 0.40; 95% CI, 0.19-0.87) but not PTEN-intact cancers (HR, 1.18; 95% CI, 0.95-1.48; heterogeneity = 0.01). Associations did not differ by ERG. Inflammation and immune pathways were enriched in normal prostate tissue of statin ever ( = 10) versus never users ( = 103).

Conclusions: Molecular tumor classification identified PTEN and inflammation/immune activation as potential mechanisms linking statins with lower lethal prostate cancer risk. These findings support a potential causal association and could inform selection of relevant biomarkers for statin clinical trials.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-19-2853DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7056554PMC
March 2020

The :p.Arg658* truncating variant is associated with risk of triple-negative breast cancer.

NPJ Breast Cancer 2019 1;5:38. Epub 2019 Nov 1.

25University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Department of Breast Medical Oncology, Houston, TX USA.

Breast cancer is a common disease partially caused by genetic risk factors. Germline pathogenic variants in DNA repair genes , , , , and are associated with breast cancer risk. , which encodes for a DNA translocase, has been proposed as a breast cancer predisposition gene, with greater effects for the ER-negative and triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) subtypes. We tested the three recurrent protein-truncating variants :p.Arg658*, p.Gln1701*, and p.Arg1931* for association with breast cancer risk in 67,112 cases, 53,766 controls, and 26,662 carriers of pathogenic variants of or . These three variants were also studied functionally by measuring survival and chromosome fragility in patient-derived immortalized fibroblasts treated with diepoxybutane or olaparib. We observed that :p.Arg658* was associated with increased risk of ER-negative disease and TNBC (OR = 2.44,  = 0.034 and OR = 3.79;  = 0.009, respectively). In a country-restricted analysis, we confirmed the associations detected for :p.Arg658* and found that also :p.Arg1931* was associated with ER-negative breast cancer risk (OR = 1.96;  = 0.006). The functional results indicated that all three variants were deleterious affecting cell survival and chromosome stability with :p.Arg658* causing more severe phenotypes. In conclusion, we confirmed that the two rare deleterious variants p.Arg658* and p.Arg1931* are risk factors for ER-negative and TNBC subtypes. Overall our data suggest that the effect of truncating variants on breast cancer risk may depend on their position in the gene. Cell sensitivity to olaparib exposure, identifies a possible therapeutic option to treat -associated tumors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41523-019-0127-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6825205PMC
November 2019

Two truncating variants in FANCC and breast cancer risk.

Sci Rep 2019 08 29;9(1):12524. Epub 2019 Aug 29.

Westmead Institute for Medical Research, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

Fanconi anemia (FA) is a genetically heterogeneous disorder with 22 disease-causing genes reported to date. In some FA genes, monoallelic mutations have been found to be associated with breast cancer risk, while the risk associations of others remain unknown. The gene for FA type C, FANCC, has been proposed as a breast cancer susceptibility gene based on epidemiological and sequencing studies. We used the Oncoarray project to genotype two truncating FANCC variants (p.R185X and p.R548X) in 64,760 breast cancer cases and 49,793 controls of European descent. FANCC mutations were observed in 25 cases (14 with p.R185X, 11 with p.R548X) and 26 controls (18 with p.R185X, 8 with p.R548X). There was no evidence of an association with the risk of breast cancer, neither overall (odds ratio 0.77, 95%CI 0.44-1.33, p = 0.4) nor by histology, hormone receptor status, age or family history. We conclude that the breast cancer risk association of these two FANCC variants, if any, is much smaller than for BRCA1, BRCA2 or PALB2 mutations. If this applies to all truncating variants in FANCC it would suggest there are differences between FA genes in their roles on breast cancer risk and demonstrates the merit of large consortia for clarifying risk associations of rare variants.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-48804-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6715680PMC
August 2019

Family history of prostate cancer and the incidence of ERG- and phosphatase and tensin homolog-defined prostate cancer.

Int J Cancer 2020 05 27;146(10):2694-2702. Epub 2019 Jul 27.

Department of Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA.

Family history is among the strongest known risk factors for prostate cancer (PCa). Emerging data suggest molecular subtypes of PCa, including two somatic genetic aberrations: fusions of androgen-regulated promoters with ERG and, separately, phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) loss. We examined associations between family history and incidence of these subtypes in 44,126 men from the prospective Health Professionals Follow-up Study. ERG and PTEN status were assessed by immunohistochemistry. Multivariable competing risks models were used to estimate hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for associations between self-reported family history of PCa and molecular subtypes of disease. Thirteen percent of men had a positive family history of PCa at baseline. During a median follow-up of 18.5 years, 5,511 PCa cases were diagnosed. Among them, 888 were assayed for ERG status (47% ERG-positive) and 715 were assayed for PTEN loss (14% PTEN null). Family history was more strongly associated with risk of ERG-negative (HR: 2.15; 95% CI: 1.71-2.70) than ERG-positive (HR: 1.49; 95% CI: 1.13-1.95) disease (p : 0.04). The strongest difference was among men with an affected father (HR : 2.09; 95% CI: 1.64-2.66; HR : 1.30; 95% CI: 0.96-1.76; p : 0.01). Family history of PCa was positively associated with both PTEN null (HR: 2.10; 95% CI: 1.26-3.49) and PTEN intact (HR: 1.72; 95% CI: 1.39-2.13) PCa (p : 0.47). Our results indicate that PCa family history may be positively associated with PCa in all ERG and PTEN subtypes, suggesting a role of genetic susceptibility in their development. It is possible that ERG-negative disease could be especially associated with positive family history.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ijc.32577DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7905843PMC
May 2020

Comparative Validation of Breast Cancer Risk Prediction Models and Projections for Future Risk Stratification.

J Natl Cancer Inst 2020 03;112(3):278-285

Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD.

Background: External validation of risk models is critical for risk-stratified breast cancer prevention. We used the Individualized Coherent Absolute Risk Estimation (iCARE) as a flexible tool for risk model development and comparative model validation and to make projections for population risk stratification.

Methods: Performance of two recently developed models, one based on the Breast and Prostate Cancer Cohort Consortium analysis (iCARE-BPC3) and another based on a literature review (iCARE-Lit), were compared with two established models (Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool and International Breast Cancer Intervention Study Model) based on classical risk factors in a UK-based cohort of 64 874 white non-Hispanic women (863 patients) age 35-74 years. Risk projections in a target population of US white non-Hispanic women age 50-70 years assessed potential improvements in risk stratification by adding mammographic breast density (MD) and polygenic risk score (PRS).

Results: The best calibrated models were iCARE-Lit (expected to observed number of cases [E/O] = 0.98, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.87 to 1.11) for women younger than 50 years, and iCARE-BPC3 (E/O = 1.00, 95% CI = 0.93 to 1.09) for women 50 years or older. Risk projections using iCARE-BPC3 indicated classical risk factors can identify approximately 500 000 women at moderate to high risk (>3% 5-year risk) in the target population. Addition of MD and a 313-variant PRS is expected to increase this number to approximately 3.5 million women, and among them, approximately 153 000 are expected to develop invasive breast cancer within 5 years.

Conclusions: iCARE models based on classical risk factors perform similarly to or better than BCRAT or IBIS in white non-Hispanic women. Addition of MD and PRS can lead to substantial improvements in risk stratification. However, these integrated models require independent prospective validation before broad clinical applications.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jnci/djz113DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7073933PMC
March 2020

Detectible mosaic truncating PPM1D mutations, age and breast cancer risk.

J Hum Genet 2019 Jun 8;64(6):545-550. Epub 2019 Mar 8.

Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA.

Mosaic protein truncating variants (PTVs) in the phosphatase, Mg2+/Mn2+dependent 1D (PPM1D) gene in blood-derived DNA have been associated with increased risk of breast cancer. We analyzed PPM1D PTVs in blood from 3817 breast cancer cases and 3058 controls by deep sequencing of a previously defined region in exon 6 of PPM1D. We identified 50 of 6875 (0.73%) participants having a mosaic PPM1D PTV. We observed a higher frequency of mosaic PPM1D PTVs with increasing age (P = 2.9 × 10). We did not observe an overall association between PPM1D PTVs and increased breast cancer risk (OR = 1.51, 95% CI = 0.84-2.71). Evidence for an association was observed in a subset of cases with DNA collected 1-year or more before breast cancer diagnosis (OR = 3.44, 95% CI = 1.62-7.30, P-value = 0.001); however, no significant association was observed for the larger series of cases with DNA collected post diagnosis (OR = 1.01, 95% CI = 0.51-2.01, P-value = 0.98). Our study indicates that the PPM1D PTVs are present at higher rates than previously reported and the frequency of PPM1D PTVs increases with age. We observed limited evidence for an association between mosaic PPM1D PTVs and breast cancer risk, suggesting mosaic PPM1D PTVs in the blood likely do not influence risk of breast cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s10038-019-0589-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8211387PMC
June 2019

Polygenic Risk Scores for Prediction of Breast Cancer and Breast Cancer Subtypes.

Am J Hum Genet 2019 01 13;104(1):21-34. Epub 2018 Dec 13.

Department of Oncology, Helsinki University Hospital, University of Helsinki, Helsinki 00290, Finland; Department of Oncology, Örebro University Hospital, Örebro 70185, Sweden.

Stratification of women according to their risk of breast cancer based on polygenic risk scores (PRSs) could improve screening and prevention strategies. Our aim was to develop PRSs, optimized for prediction of estrogen receptor (ER)-specific disease, from the largest available genome-wide association dataset and to empirically validate the PRSs in prospective studies. The development dataset comprised 94,075 case subjects and 75,017 control subjects of European ancestry from 69 studies, divided into training and validation sets. Samples were genotyped using genome-wide arrays, and single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were selected by stepwise regression or lasso penalized regression. The best performing PRSs were validated in an independent test set comprising 11,428 case subjects and 18,323 control subjects from 10 prospective studies and 190,040 women from UK Biobank (3,215 incident breast cancers). For the best PRSs (313 SNPs), the odds ratio for overall disease per 1 standard deviation in ten prospective studies was 1.61 (95%CI: 1.57-1.65) with area under receiver-operator curve (AUC) = 0.630 (95%CI: 0.628-0.651). The lifetime risk of overall breast cancer in the top centile of the PRSs was 32.6%. Compared with women in the middle quintile, those in the highest 1% of risk had 4.37- and 2.78-fold risks, and those in the lowest 1% of risk had 0.16- and 0.27-fold risks, of developing ER-positive and ER-negative disease, respectively. Goodness-of-fit tests indicated that this PRS was well calibrated and predicts disease risk accurately in the tails of the distribution. This PRS is a powerful and reliable predictor of breast cancer risk that may improve breast cancer prevention programs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2018.11.002DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6323553PMC
January 2019

Molecular mechanisms linking high body mass index to breast cancer etiology in post-menopausal breast tumor and tumor-adjacent tissues.

Breast Cancer Res Treat 2019 Feb 1;173(3):667-677. Epub 2018 Nov 1.

Department of Pathology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, 330 Brookline Ave, Dana 517B, Boston, MA, 02215, USA.

Purpose: In post-menopausal women, high body mass index (BMI) is an established breast cancer risk factor and is associated with worse breast cancer prognosis. We assessed the associations between BMI and gene expression of both breast tumor and adjacent tissue in estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) and estrogen receptor-negative (ER-) diseases to help elucidate the mechanisms linking obesity with breast cancer biology in 519 post-menopausal women from the Nurses' Health Study (NHS) and NHSII.

Methods: Differential gene expression was analyzed separately in ER+ and ER- disease both comparing overweight (BMI ≥ 25 to < 30) or obese (BMI ≥ 30) women to women with normal BMI (BMI < 25), and per 5 kg/m increase in BMI. Analyses controlled for age and year of diagnosis, physical activity, alcohol consumption, and hormone therapy use. Gene set enrichment analyses were performed and validated among a subset of post-menopausal cases in The Cancer Genome Atlas (for tumor) and Polish Breast Cancer Study (for tumor-adjacent).

Results: No gene was differentially expressed by BMI (FDR < 0.05). BMI was significantly associated with increased cellular proliferation pathways, particularly in ER+ tumors, and increased inflammation pathways in ER- tumor and ER- tumor-adjacent tissues (FDR < 0.05). High BMI was associated with upregulation of genes involved in epithelial-mesenchymal transition in ER+ tumor-adjacent tissues.

Conclusions: This study provides insights into molecular mechanisms of BMI influencing post-menopausal breast cancer biology. Tumor and tumor-adjacent tissues provide independent information about potential mechanisms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10549-018-5034-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6391202PMC
February 2019

A Prospective Study of the Association between Physical Activity and Risk of Prostate Cancer Defined by Clinical Features and TMPRSS2:ERG.

Eur Urol 2019 07 6;76(1):33-40. Epub 2018 Oct 6.

Department of Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA; Channing Division of Network Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.

Background: Growing evidence shows that clinical and molecular subtypes of prostate cancer (PCa) have specific risk factors. Observational studies suggest that physical activity may lower the risk of aggressive PCa. To our knowledge, the association between physical activity and PCa defined by TMPRSS2:ERG has not been evaluated.

Objective: To prospectively examine the association between physical activity and risk of PCa defined by clinical features and TMPRSS2:ERG.

Design, Setting, And Participants: We studied 49160 men aged 40-75 yr in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study from 1986 to 2012. Data was collected at baseline and every 2 yr with >90% follow-up. Total and vigorous physical activity were measured in metabolic equivalent of task (MET)-h/wk.

Outcome Measures And Statistical Analysis: Advanced PCa was defined as stage T3b, T4, N1, or M1 at diagnosis and lethal PCa as distant metastases or death due to disease over follow-up. Presence of TMPRSS2:ERG was estimated by immunohistochemistry of ERG protein expression. Cox proportional hazards models were used to obtain multivariable hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for incidence of subtype-specific PCa.

Results And Limitations: During 26 yr of follow-up, 6411 developed PCa overall and 888 developed lethal disease. There were no significant associations between total physical activity and risk of PCa in the overall cohort. In multivariable-adjusted models, men in the highest quintile of vigorous activity had a significant 30% lower risk of advanced PCa (HR: 0.70, 95% CI: 0.53-0.92) and 25% lower risk of lethal PCa (HR: 0.75, 95% CI: 0.59-0.94) than men in the lowest quintile of vigorous activity. The association was independent of screening history. Vigorous activity was not associated with total PCa in the overall cohort but was inversely associated among highly screened men (top vs bottom quintile, HR: 0.83, 95% CI: 0.70-0.97). Of all cases, 945 were assayed for ERG (48% ERG-positive). Men with higher vigorous activity had a lower risk of ERG-positive PCa (top vs bottom quintile, HR: 0.71, 95% CI: 0.52-0.97). There was no significant association with the risk of ERG-negative disease (p heterogeneity=0.09).

Conclusions: Our study confirms that vigorous physical activity is associated with lower risk of advanced and lethal PCa and provides novel evidence for a lower risk of TMPRSS2:ERG-positive disease.

Patient Summary: The identification of modifiable lifestyle factors for prevention of clinically important prostate cancer (PCa) is needed. In this report, we compared risk of PCa in men with different levels of physical activity. Men with higher vigorous activity had a lower risk of developing advanced and lethal PCa and PCa with the common TMPRSS2:ERG gene fusion.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.eururo.2018.09.041DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6451672PMC
July 2019
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