Potential role of UGT pharmacogenetics in cancer treatment and prevention: focus on tamoxifen

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2009 Feb:1155:99-111. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.04114.x.


Tamoxifen (TAM) is a selective estrogen receptor modulator that is widely used in the prevention and treatment of estrogen receptor-positive (ER(+)) breast cancer. Its use has significantly contributed to a decline in breast cancer mortality, since breast cancer patients treated with TAM for 5 years exhibit a 30-50% reduction in both the rate of disease recurrence after 10 years of patient follow-up and occurrence of contralateral breast cancer. However, in patients treated with TAM there is substantial interindividual variability in the development of resistance to TAM therapy, and in the incidence of TAM-induced adverse events, including deep vein thrombosis, hot flashes, and the development of endometrial cancer. This article will focus on the UDP glucuronosyltransferases, a family of metabolizing enzymes that are responsible for the deactivation and clearance of TAM and TAM metabolites, and how interindividual differences in these enzymes may play a role in patient response to TAM.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal / therapeutic use*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Female
  • Glucuronosyltransferase / genetics
  • Glucuronosyltransferase / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Pharmacogenetics*
  • Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators / pharmacology
  • Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators / therapeutic use*
  • Tamoxifen / pharmacology
  • Tamoxifen / therapeutic use*


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal
  • Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators
  • Tamoxifen
  • Glucuronosyltransferase