The enzyme human steroid 5-alpha reductase type II (SRD5A2) and androgen receptor (AR) are critical mediators of androgen action, suggesting a potential role in hormonally related cancers. The SRD5A2 gene harbours two frequent polymorphic sites, one in the coding region, at codon 89 of exon 1, where valine is substituted by leucine (V89L) and the other in the 3' untranslated region (3' UTR) where a variable number of dinucleotide TA repeat lengths exists. The V89L polymorphism is known to alter the activity of this enzyme. In the present study we examined 144 sporadic breast tumours from Italian patients for the V89L and TA polymorphisms by sequence and fragment analysis, respectively. Tumour extract prostate specific antigen (PSA) concentration as well as a number of well-established clinical and pathological parameters were evaluated. The results show that 53% of the tumours were homozygous for VV alleles, 37% were heterozygous for VL alleles and 10% were homozygous for LL alleles. TA(0) repeats were found in tumours with VV, LL and VL genotypes. TA(9) repeats were only found in VV homozygotes and were totally absent from either LL homozygotes or VL heterozygotes. PSA expression was significantly elevated in tumours with VV genotype. The presence of LL alleles in breast tumours is associated with earlier onset and shorter disease-free (RR = 2.65;P = 0.013) and overall survival (RR = 3.06;P = 0.014) rates. The VV genotype is associated with a more favourable prognosis. Our study suggests that the polymorphism in codon 89 of exon 1 of the human 5 alpha-reductase gene is related with TA repeat genotypes, PSA expression and breast cancer prognosis. More specifically, we found that the LL genotype is also associated with earlier onset and more aggressive forms of breast cancer. Long-term-outcome studies are needed to investigate the relevance of this polymorphism to breast cancer susceptibility.
Copyright 2001 Cancer Research Campaign.