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, 15 (5), R81

A Genome-Wide Association Study of Chemotherapy-Induced Alopecia in Breast Cancer Patients

A Genome-Wide Association Study of Chemotherapy-Induced Alopecia in Breast Cancer Patients

Suyoun Chung et al. Breast Cancer Res.


Introduction: Chemotherapy-induced alopecia is one of the most common adverse events caused by conventional cytotoxic chemotherapy, yet there has been very little progress in the prevention or treatment of this side effect. Although this is not a life-threatening event, alopecia is very psychologically difficult for many women to manage. In order to improve the quality of life for these women, it is important to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of chemotherapy-induced alopecia and develop ways to effectively prevent and/or treat it. To identify the genetic risk factors associated with chemotherapy-induced alopecia, we conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) using DNA samples from breast cancer patients who were treated with chemotherapy.

Methods: We performed a case-control association study of 303 individuals who developed grade 2 alopecia, and compared them with 880 breast cancer patients who did not show hair loss after being treated with conventional chemotherapy. In addition, we separately analyzed a subset of patients who received specific combination therapies by GWASs and applied the weighted genetic risk scoring (wGRS) system to investigate the cumulative effects of the associated SNPs.

Results: We identified an SNP significantly associated with drug-induced grade 2 alopecia (rs3820706 in CACNB4 (calcium channel voltage-dependent subunit beta 4) on 2q23, P = 8.13 × 10(-9), OR = 3.71) and detected several SNPs that showed some suggestive associations by subgroup analyses. We also classified patients into four groups on the basis of wGRS analysis and found that patients who classified in the highest risk group showed 443 times higher risk of antimicrotubule agents-induced alopecia than the lowest risk group.

Conclusions: Our study suggests several associated genes and should shed some light on the molecular mechanism of alopecia in chemotherapy-treated breast cancer patients and hopefully will contribute to development of interventions that will improve the quality of life (QOL) of cancer patients.


Figure 1
Figure 1
The proportions of patients by alopecia grade in each weighted genomic risk score. The proportions of patients who developed no adverse reaction (G0), grade 1 alopecia, or grade 2 alopecia in each of the weighted genomic risk score (wGRS) groups. The number in parentheses indicates the number of samples in each group. (A) paclitaxel monotherapy, (B) docetaxel monotherapy.

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