Background: Positron emission tomography (PET) is a an important technology for detection and staging of breast cancer. The method is based upon assessment of glucose metabolism using the 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (18F-FDG) as glucose analog. A strong variability of 18F-FDG uptake by breast cancer tissue has been reported, the reason for which is not fully understood but may involve vascular density and integrity. A 936C>T polymorphism in the gene for the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) has been associated with VEGF plasma levels and breast cancer risk.
Methods: To analyze the role of this polymorphism for 18F-FDG uptake in breast cancer patients, we determined the VEGF genotype in 37 patients in whom PET was performed for detection of metastases. An 18F-FDG uptake score of 1 (low uptake), 2 (medium uptake) or 3 (high uptake) was assigned to each patient.
Results: VEGF CC, CT and TT genotypes were found in 28, 8 and 1 patient. Uptake score of 1 was found in three patients, score 2 in 12 patients and score 3 in 22 patients. VEGF genotype was significantly associated with FDG uptake score (chi2 test, p=0.007). The number of 936-T alleles correlated with a lower 18F-FDG uptake score (Spearman correlation test, p=0.032).
Conclusion: In the present study the common VEGF 936C>T polymorphisms had a major impact on 18F-FDG uptake in breast cancer patients. If this result can be confirmed in following studies, it might have strong relevance for the use of PET as diagnostic tool.