Association of prostate cancer risk with genetic polymorphisms in vitamin D receptor and androgen receptor

J Natl Cancer Inst. 1997 Jan 15;89(2):166-70. doi: 10.1093/jnci/89.2.166.


Background: Prostate cancer is an increasingly common disease for which there are few well-established risk factors. Family history data suggest a genetic component; however, the majority of prostate cancer cases cannot be explained by a single-gene model. Prostate cell division is influenced by two steroid hormones, testosterone and vitamin D, the action of each being mediated by its respective receptor. The genes for the two receptors are candidates in a multigenic model for prostate cancer susceptibility.

Purpose: We examined genetic polymorphisms in two steroid receptors, the androgen receptor (AR) and the vitamin D receptor (VDR), in a case-control pilot study of prostate cancer.

Methods: Fifty-seven non-Hispanic white case patients with prostate cancer and 169 non-Hispanic white control subjects were genotyped for a previously described microsatellite (CAG repeats) in the AR gene and for a newly discovered poly-A microsatellite in the 3'-untranslated region (3'UTR) of the VDR gene. To compare genotypes with respect to prostate cancer risk, we estimated odds ratios (ORs) by using logistic regression. ORs were also estimated separately for advanced and localized cases of disease. All P values resulted from two-sided tests.

Results: Both the AR and the VDR polymorphisms were associated, individually and after mutual adjustment, with prostate cancer. Adjusted ORs (95% confidence intervals [CIs]) for prostate cancer were 2.10 (95% CI = 1.11-3.99) for individuals carrying an AR CAG allele with fewer than 20 repeats versus an allele with 20 or more repeats and 4.61 (95% CI = 1.34-15.82) for individuals carrying at least one long (A18 to A22) VDR poly-A allele versus two short (A14 to A17) poly-A alleles. For both the AR and VDR genes, the at-risk genotypes were more strongly associated with advanced disease than with localized disease.

Conclusions: In this pilot study, genetic variation in both the VDR and the AR genes was associated with prostate cancer, and both genes appear to preferentially confer risk for advanced disease. These two genetic risk factors, if confirmed, are among the strongest risk factors yet identified for prostate cancer.

Implications: These results are consistent with a multigenic model of prostate cancer susceptibility. On the basis of the joint effect of several genetic loci, one might ultimately be able to construct a risk profile to predict advanced disease, so that men whose disease is unlikely to progress to an advanced stage can possibly be spared aggressive treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Disease Susceptibility / metabolism
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pilot Projects
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Receptors, Androgen / genetics*
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / genetics*
  • Risk
  • Risk Factors
  • Trinucleotide Repeats / genetics


  • Receptors, Androgen
  • Receptors, Calcitriol