Tamoxifen metabolite concentrations, CYP2D6 genotype, and breast cancer outcomes

Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2011 May;89(5):718-25. doi: 10.1038/clpt.2011.32. Epub 2011 Mar 23.


We explored whether breast cancer outcomes are associated with endoxifen and other metabolites of tamoxifen and examined potential correlates of endoxifen concentration levels in serum including cytochrome P450 2D6 (CYP2D6) metabolizer phenotype and body mass index (BMI). Concentration levels of tamoxifen, endoxifen, 4-hydroxytamoxifen (4OH-tamoxifen), and N-desmethyltamoxifen (ND-tamoxifen) were measured from samples taken from 1,370 patients with estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer who were participating in the Women's Healthy Eating and Living (WHEL) Study. We tested these concentration levels for possible associations with breast cancer outcomes and found that breast cancer outcomes were not associated with the concentration levels of tamoxifen, 4-hydroxytamoxifen, and ND-tamoxifen. For endoxifen, a threshold was identified, with women in the upper four quintiles of endoxifen concentration appearing to have a 26% lower recurrence rate than women in the bottom quintile (hazard ratio (HR) = 0.74; 95% confidence interval (CI), (0.55-1.00)). The predictors of this higher-risk bottom quintile were poor/intermediate metabolizer genotype, higher BMI, and lower tamoxifen concentrations as compared with the mean for the cohort as a whole. This study suggests that there is a minimal concentration threshold above which endoxifen is effective against the recurrence of breast cancer and that ~80% of tamoxifen takers attain this threshold.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Breast Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2D6 / genetics*
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Phenotype
  • Tamoxifen / analogs & derivatives*
  • Tamoxifen / blood
  • Tamoxifen / metabolism*
  • Tamoxifen / therapeutic use
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Tamoxifen
  • 4-hydroxy-N-desmethyltamoxifen
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2D6