Estrogen receptor alpha/beta ratio and estrogen receptor beta as predictors of endocrine therapy responsiveness-a randomized neoadjuvant trial comparison between anastrozole and tamoxifen for the treatment of postmenopausal breast cancer

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Abstract

Background: The role of estrogen receptor beta (ER-β) in breast cancer (BC) remains unclear. Some studies have suggested that ER-β may oppose the actions of estrogen receptor alpha (ER-α), and clinical evidence has indicated that the loss of ER-β expression is associated with a poor prognosis and resistance to endocrine therapy. The objective of the present study was to determine the role of ER-β and the ER-α/ER-β ratio in predicting the response to endocrine therapy and whether different regimens have any effect on ER-β expression levels.Methods: Ninety postmenopausal patients with primary BC were recruited for a short-term double-blinded randomized prospective controlled study. To determine tumor cell proliferation, we measured the expression of Ki67 in tumor biopsy samples taken before and after 26 days of treatment with anastrozole 1 mg/day (N = 25), tamoxifen 20 mg/day (N = 24) or placebo (N = 29) of 78 participants. The pre- and post-samples were placed in tissue microarray blocks and submitted for immunohistochemical assay. Biomarker statuses (ER-β, ER-α and Ki67) were obtained by comparing each immunohistochemical evaluation of the pre- and post-surgery samples using the semi-quantitative Allred's method. Statistical analyses were performed using an ANOVA and Spearman's correlation coefficient tests, with significance at p ≤ 0.05.Results: The frequency of ER-β expression did not change after treatment (p = 0.33). There were no significant changes in Ki67 levels in ER-β-negative cases (p = 0.45), but in the ER-β-positive cases, the anastrozole (p = 0.01) and tamoxifen groups (p = 0.04) presented a significant reduction in post-treatment Ki67 scores. There was a weak but positive correlation between the ER-α and ER-β expression levels. Only patients with an ER-α/ER-β expression ratio between 1 and 1.5 demonstrated significant differences in Ki67 levels after treatment with anastrozole (p = 0.005) and tamoxifen (p = 0.026).Conclusions: Our results provide additional data that indicate that the measurement of ER-β in BC patients may help predict tamoxifen and anastrozole responsiveness in the neoadjuvant setting. These effects of hormonal treatment appear to be dependent on the ratio of ER-α/ER-β expression. Trial registration: Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN89801719. © 2013 Madeira et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

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Madeira, M., Mattar, A., Logullo, Â. F., Soares, F. A., & Gebrim, L. H. (2013). Estrogen receptor alpha/beta ratio and estrogen receptor beta as predictors of endocrine therapy responsiveness-a randomized neoadjuvant trial comparison between anastrozole and tamoxifen for the treatment of postmenopausal breast cancer. BMC Cancer, 13. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2407-13-425

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