Gene linked to lower breast cancer risk

Dr. Uwe Langsenlehner and colleagues from Medical University Graz in Austria showed that a specific genetic variation in a cytokine gene is associated with lower breast cancer risk.

Cytokines are molecules that act as signals between cells. The authors were examining the cytokine IL 10, which is involved in the development of various tumors.

"In breast cancer risk, IL-10 may be a two-edged sword," Dr. Langsenlehner said. "On one hand, higher IL-10 levels could facilitate development of cancer by supporting tumor escape from the immune response. On the other hand, the anti-angiogenic effects of IL-10 are supposed to prevent or reduce tumor growth and spread."

Specifically, the Austrian team examined a particular genetic arrangement, or haplotype, in the promoter region of the gene, which has been associated with increased IL-10 expression. The researchers call this the TCATA haplotype.

In a study comparing 500 women with breast cancer against 500 health controls, they found that breast cancer patients were significantly less likely to have two versions of the TCATA haplotype.

"Our study suggests that high levels of IL-10 may be protective against breast cancer," Dr. Langsenlehner said. "The mechanism for this remains to be determined, but may likely include anti-angiogenic functions of IL-10. If this result can be confirmed in additional studies, determination of IL 10 genotypes may help to obtain a more precise individual breast cancer risk profile."


Contact: Gracemarie Bricalli
European Society for Medical Oncology

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