Plasma letrozole concentrations in postmenopausal women with breast cancer are associated with CYP2A6 genetic variants, body mass index, and age

Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2011 Nov;90(5):693-700. doi: 10.1038/clpt.2011.174. Epub 2011 Oct 5.


The associations between plasma letrozole concentrations and CYP2A6 and CYP3A5 genetic variants were tested in the Exemestane and Letrozole Pharmacogenomics (ELPH) trial. ELPH is a multicenter, open-label prospective clinical trial in women randomly assigned (n≈250 in each arm) to receive 2 years of treatment with either oral letrozole (2.5 mg/day) or oral exemestane (25 mg/day). CYP2A6 and CYP3A showed effects on letrozole metabolism in vitro. DNA samples were genotyped for variants in the CYP2A6 and CYP3A5 genes. Plasma letrozole concentrations showed high interpatient variability (>10-fold) and were associated significantly with CYP2A6 genotypes (P<0.0001), body mass index (BMI) (P<0.0001), and age (P=0.0035). However, CYP3A5 genotypes showed no association with plasma letrozole concentrations. These data suggest that CYP2A6 is the principal clearance mechanism for letrozole in vivo. CYP2A6 metabolic status, along with BMI and age, may serve as a biomarker of the efficacy of letrozole treatment or a predictor of adverse effects.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Androstadienes / therapeutic use
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacokinetics*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Aryl Hydrocarbon Hydroxylases / genetics*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2A6
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A / genetics
  • Female
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Letrozole
  • Middle Aged
  • Nitriles / pharmacokinetics*
  • Nitriles / therapeutic use
  • Pharmacogenetics
  • Postmenopause*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Triazoles / pharmacokinetics*
  • Triazoles / therapeutic use


  • Androstadienes
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Nitriles
  • Triazoles
  • Letrozole
  • Aryl Hydrocarbon Hydroxylases
  • CYP2A6 protein, human
  • CYP3A5 protein, human
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2A6
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A
  • exemestane