Androgen Receptor Biology in Triple Negative Breast Cancer: a Case for Classification as AR+ or Quadruple Negative Disease

Horm Cancer. 2015 Dec;6(5-6):206-13. doi: 10.1007/s12672-015-0232-3. Epub 2015 Jul 23.


Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is an aggressive breast cancer subtype that lacks estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) amplification. Due to the absence of these receptors, TNBC does not respond to traditional endocrine or HER2-targeted therapies that improve patient prognosis in other breast cancer subtypes. TNBC has a poor prognosis, and currently, there are no effective targeted therapies. Some TNBC tumors express androgen receptor (AR) and may benefit from AR-targeted therapies. Here, we review the literature on AR in TNBC and propose that TNBC be further sub-classified as either AR+ TNBC or quadruple negative breast cancer since targeting AR may represent a viable therapeutic option for a subset of TNBC.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alternative Splicing
  • Androgen Receptor Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Androgen Receptor Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Hormones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • Mutation
  • Protein Transport
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / genetics
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / metabolism
  • Receptors, Androgen / genetics*
  • Receptors, Androgen / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Estrogen / genetics
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism
  • Receptors, Progesterone / genetics
  • Receptors, Progesterone / metabolism
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Triple Negative Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Triple Negative Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Triple Negative Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Triple Negative Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*


  • Androgen Receptor Antagonists
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Hormones
  • Receptors, Androgen
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Receptors, Progesterone
  • Receptor, ErbB-2