Tumor-specific HMG-CoA reductase expression in primary premenopausal breast cancer predicts response to tamoxifen

UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science, UCD Conway Institute, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.
Breast cancer research: BCR (Impact Factor: 5.49). 01/2011; 13(1):R12. DOI: 10.1186/bcr2820
Source: PubMed


We previously reported an association between tumor-specific 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutharyl-coenzyme A reductase (HMG-CoAR) expression and a good prognosis in breast cancer. Here, the predictive value of HMG-CoAR expression in relation to tamoxifen response was examined.
HMG-CoAR protein and RNA expression was analyzed in a cell line model of tamoxifen resistance using western blotting and PCR. HMG-CoAR mRNA expression was examined in 155 tamoxifen-treated breast tumors obtained from a previously published gene expression study (Cohort I). HMG-CoAR protein expression was examined in 422 stage II premenopausal breast cancer patients, who had previously participated in a randomized control trial comparing 2 years of tamoxifen with no systemic adjuvant treatment (Cohort II). Kaplan-Meier analysis and Cox proportional hazards modeling were used to estimate the risk of recurrence-free survival (RFS) and the effect of HMG-CoAR expression on tamoxifen response.
HMG-CoAR protein and RNA expression were decreased in tamoxifen-resistant MCF7-LCC9 cells compared with their tamoxifen-sensitive parental cell line. HMG-CoAR mRNA expression was decreased in tumors that recurred following tamoxifen treatment (P < 0.001) and was an independent predictor of RFS in Cohort I (hazard ratio = 0.63, P = 0.009). In Cohort II, adjuvant tamoxifen increased RFS in HMG-CoAR-positive tumors (P = 0.008). Multivariate Cox regression analysis demonstrated that HMG-CoAR was an independent predictor of improved RFS in Cohort II (hazard ratio = 0.67, P = 0.010), and subset analysis revealed that this was maintained in estrogen receptor (ER)-positive patients (hazard ratio = 0.65, P = 0.029). Multivariate interaction analysis demonstrated a difference in tamoxifen efficacy relative to HMG-CoAR expression (P = 0.05). Analysis of tamoxifen response revealed that patients with ER-positive/HMG-CoAR tumors had a significant response to tamoxifen (P = 0.010) as well as patients with ER-positive or HMG-CoAR-positive tumors (P = 0.035). Stratification according to ER and HMG-CoAR status demonstrated that ER-positive/HMG-CoAR-positive tumors had an improved RFS compared with ER-positive/HMG-CoAR-negative tumors in the treatment arm (P = 0.033); this effect was lost in the control arm (P = 0.138), however, suggesting that HMG-CoAR predicts tamoxifen response.
HMG-CoAR expression is a predictor of response to tamoxifen in both ER-positive and ER-negative disease. Premenopausal patients with tumors that express ER or HMG-CoAR respond to adjuvant tamoxifen.

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Available from: Fredrik Pontén,
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    • "It has recently been demonstrated that elevated expression of the enzyme 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutharyl-coenzyme A reductase (HMGCR) correlates with favourable prognosis in breast and ovarian cancer [2,3], and with an improved response to tamoxifen [4] and pre-surgical statin treatment [5] in breast cancer. Several epidemiological studies have shown a link between use of statins, inhibitors of HMGCR, and a significantly reduced CRC incidence [6-8], and statins have also been demonstrated to exert anti-neoplastic properties in CRC cells in vitro[9,10]. "
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