Plasma levels of Semaphorin 4D are decreased by adjuvant tamoxifen but not aromatase inhibitor therapy in breast cancer patients

J Bone Oncol. 2019 Apr 4:16:100237. doi: 10.1016/j.jbo.2019.100237. eCollection 2019 Jun.


Background: Semaphorin 4D (Sema4D) is a glycoprotein that inhibits bone formation and has been associated with cancer progression and the occurrence of bone metastases. Recently, Sema4D expression has been linked to estrogen signaling in breast cancer. Endocrine therapies like tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors (AI) are a standard therapeutic approach in hormone receptor positive breast cancers. Tamoxifen exerts ER-agonistic effects on bone, whereas AI negatively affect bone health by increasing resorption and fracture risk. The effect of endocrine therapies on circulating Sema4D levels in breast cancer patients has not been investigated yet.

Methods: We measured circulating Sema4D plasma levels at primary diagnosis and in a follow-up sample 12 months after surgery in a cohort of 46 pre- and postmenopausal women with primary estrogen receptor positive breast cancer receiving adjuvant tamoxifen or AI.

Results: The mean baseline levels ± SD for Sema4D were 441.6 ± 143.4 pmol/l. No significant differences in total plasma Sema4D were observed when stratifying the patients according to age, menopausal status, tumor subtype, nodal and hormone receptor status, or tumor size. However, Sema4D levels were significantly reduced by 28% (p<0.001) in tamoxifen treated patients 12 months after surgery, whereas no alteration was observed in patients treated with AI.

Conclusion: This finding potentially represents an additional mechanism of the bone-protective properties of tamoxifen and further emphasizes a link between Sema4D and estrogen receptor signaling.

Keywords: AI, aromatase inhibitors; Aromatase inhibitors; Breast cancer; ER, estrogen receptor; Sema4D, Semaphorin 4D; Semaphorin 4D; Tamoxifen.