Association between breast cancer risk and disease aggressiveness: Characterizing underlying gene expression patterns

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Association between breast cancer risk and disease aggressiveness: Characterizing underlying gene expression patterns
Title:
Association between breast cancer risk and disease aggressiveness: Characterizing underlying gene expression patterns
Journal Title:
International Journal of Cancer
Publication Date:
28 August 2020
Citation:
Ugalde‐Morales, E., Grassmann, F., Humphreys, K., Li, J., Eriksson, M., Tobin, N. P., Borg, Å., Vallon‐Christersson, J., Hall, P., & Czene, K. (2020). Association between breast cancer risk and disease aggressiveness: Characterizing underlying gene expression patterns. International Journal of Cancer, 148(4), 884–894. Portico. https://doi.org/10.1002/ijc.33270
Abstract:
The association between breast cancer risk defined by the Tyrer-Cuzick score (TC) and disease prognosis is not well established. Here, we investigated the relationship between 5-year TC and disease aggressiveness and then characterized underlying molecular processes. In a case-only study (n = 2474), we studied the association of TC with molecular subtypes and tumor characteristics. In a subset of patients (n = 672), we correlated gene expression to TC and computed a low-risk TC gene expression (TC-Gx) profile, that is, a profile expected to be negatively associated with risk, which we used to test for association with disease aggressiveness. We performed enrichment analysis to pinpoint molecular processes likely to be altered in low-risk tumors. A higher TC was found to be inversely associated with more aggressive surrogate molecular subtypes and tumor characteristics (P < .05) including Ki-67 proliferation status (P < 5 × 10−07). Our low-risk TC-Gx, based on the weighted sum of 37 expression values of genes strongly correlated with TC, was associated with basal-like (P < 5 × 10−13), HER2-enriched subtype (P < 5 × 10−07) and worse 10-year breast cancer-specific survival (log-rank P < 5 × 10−04). Associations between low-risk TC-Gx and more aggressive molecular subtypes were replicated in an independent cohort from The Cancer Genome Atlas database (n = 975). Gene expression that correlated with low TC was enriched in proliferation and oncogenic signaling pathways (FDR < 0.05). Moreover, higher proliferation was a key factor explaining the association with worse survival. Women who developed breast cancer despite having a low risk were diagnosed with more aggressive tumors and had a worse prognosis, most likely driven by increased proliferation. Our findings imply the need to establish risk factors associated with more aggressive breast cancer subtypes.
License type:
Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Funding Info:
This research / project is supported by the National Research Foundation Singapore - NRF Fellowship
Grant Reference no. : NRF-NRFF2017-02

This work was financed by the Swedish Research Council(Grant 2018-02547), the Swedish Cancer Society (grants CAN19 0266) and the Stockholm County Council (grant number20170088). The study was supported by the Cancer Risk Prediction Center (CRisP; www.crispcenter.org), a Linneus Centre (ContractID 70867902) financed by the Swedish Research Council. KH was supported by the Swedish Research Council (2016-01245) and the Swedish Cancer Society (CAN 2017/287)
Description:
ISSN:
1097-0215
0020-7136