OBJECTIVE: To identify mutation-specific cancer risks for carriers of BRCA1/2.
DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: Observational study of women who were ascertained between 1937 and 2011 (median, 1999) and found to carry disease-associated BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations. The international sample comprised 19,581 carriers of BRCA1 mutations and 11,900 carriers of BRCA2 mutations from 55 centers in 33 countries on 6 continents. We estimated hazard ratios for breast and ovarian cancer based on mutation type, function, and nucleotide position. We also estimated RHR, the ratio of breast vs ovarian cancer hazard ratios. A value of RHR greater than 1 indicated elevated breast cancer risk; a value of RHR less than 1 indicated elevated ovarian cancer risk.
EXPOSURES: Mutations of BRCA1 or BRCA2.
MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Breast and ovarian cancer risks.
RESULTS: Among BRCA1 mutation carriers, 9052 women (46%) were diagnosed with breast cancer, 2317 (12%) with ovarian cancer, 1041 (5%) with breast and ovarian cancer, and 7171 (37%) without cancer. Among BRCA2 mutation carriers, 6180 women (52%) were diagnosed with breast cancer, 682 (6%) with ovarian cancer, 272 (2%) with breast and ovarian cancer, and 4766 (40%) without cancer. In BRCA1, we identified 3 breast cancer cluster regions (BCCRs) located at c.179 to c.505 (BCCR1; RHR = 1.46; 95% CI, 1.22-1.74; P = 2 × 10(-6)), c.4328 to c.4945 (BCCR2; RHR = 1.34; 95% CI, 1.01-1.78; P = .04), and c. 5261 to c.5563 (BCCR2', RHR = 1.38; 95% CI, 1.22-1.55; P = 6 × 10(-9)). We also identified an ovarian cancer cluster region (OCCR) from c.1380 to c.4062 (approximately exon 11) with RHR = 0.62 (95% CI, 0.56-0.70; P = 9 × 10(-17)). In BRCA2, we observed multiple BCCRs spanning c.1 to c.596 (BCCR1; RHR = 1.71; 95% CI, 1.06-2.78; P = .03), c.772 to c.1806 (BCCR1'; RHR = 1.63; 95% CI, 1.10-2.40; P = .01), and c.7394 to c.8904 (BCCR2; RHR = 2.31; 95% CI, 1.69-3.16; P = .00002). We also identified 3 OCCRs: the first (OCCR1) spanned c.3249 to c.5681 that was adjacent to c.5946delT (6174delT; RHR = 0.51; 95% CI, 0.44-0.60; P = 6 × 10(-17)). The second OCCR spanned c.6645 to c.7471 (OCCR2; RHR = 0.57; 95% CI, 0.41-0.80; P = .001). Mutations conferring nonsense-mediated decay were associated with differential breast or ovarian cancer risks and an earlier age of breast cancer diagnosis for both BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers.
CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: Breast and ovarian cancer risks varied by type and location of BRCA1/2 mutations. With appropriate validation, these data may have implications for risk assessment and cancer prevention decision making for carriers of BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations.
SIGNIFICANCE: We demonstrate that combining large-scale GWA meta-analysis findings across cancer types can identify completely new risk loci common to breast, ovarian, and prostate cancers. We show that the identification of such cross-cancer risk loci has the potential to shed new light on the shared biology underlying these hormone-related cancers. Cancer Discov; 6(9); 1052-67. ©2016 AACR.This article is highlighted in the In This Issue feature, p. 932.
METHODS AND FINDINGS: Genetic instruments to proxy 12 risk factors were constructed by identifying single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that were robustly (P < 5 × 10-8) and independently associated with each respective risk factor in previously reported genome-wide association studies. These risk factors included genetic liability to 3 factors (endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome, type 2 diabetes) scaled to reflect a 50% higher odds liability to disease. We obtained summary statistics for the association of these SNPs with risk of overall and histotype-specific invasive epithelial ovarian cancer (22,406 cases; 40,941 controls) and low malignant potential tumours (3,103 cases; 40,941 controls) from the Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium (OCAC). The OCAC dataset comprises 63 genotyping project/case-control sets with participants of European ancestry recruited from 14 countries (US, Australia, Belarus, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Canada, Poland, UK, Spain, Netherlands, and Sweden). SNPs were combined into multi-allelic inverse-variance-weighted fixed or random effects models to generate effect estimates and 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Three complementary sensitivity analyses were performed to examine violations of MR assumptions: MR-Egger regression and weighted median and mode estimators. A Bonferroni-corrected P value threshold was used to establish strong evidence (P < 0.0042) and suggestive evidence (0.0042 < P < 0.05) for associations. In MR analyses, there was strong or suggestive evidence that 2 of the 12 risk factors were associated with invasive epithelial ovarian cancer and 8 of the 12 were associated with 1 or more invasive epithelial ovarian cancer histotypes. There was strong evidence that genetic liability to endometriosis was associated with an increased risk of invasive epithelial ovarian cancer (odds ratio [OR] per 50% higher odds liability: 1.10, 95% CI 1.06-1.15; P = 6.94 × 10-7) and suggestive evidence that lifetime smoking exposure was associated with an increased risk of invasive epithelial ovarian cancer (OR per unit increase in smoking score: 1.36, 95% CI 1.04-1.78; P = 0.02). In analyses examining histotypes and low malignant potential tumours, the strongest associations found were between height and clear cell carcinoma (OR per SD increase: 1.36, 95% CI 1.15-1.61; P = 0.0003); age at natural menopause and endometrioid carcinoma (OR per year later onset: 1.09, 95% CI 1.02-1.16; P = 0.007); and genetic liability to polycystic ovary syndrome and endometrioid carcinoma (OR per 50% higher odds liability: 0.89, 95% CI 0.82-0.96; P = 0.002). There was little evidence for an association of genetic liability to type 2 diabetes, parity, or circulating levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D and sex hormone binding globulin with ovarian cancer or its subtypes. The primary limitations of this analysis include the modest statistical power for analyses of risk factors in relation to some less common ovarian cancer histotypes (low grade serous, mucinous, and clear cell carcinomas), the inability to directly examine the association of some ovarian cancer risk factors that did not have robust genetic variants available to serve as proxies (e.g., oral contraceptive use, hormone replacement therapy), and the assumption of linear relationships between risk factors and ovarian cancer risk.
CONCLUSIONS: Our comprehensive examination of possible aetiological drivers of ovarian carcinogenesis using germline genetic variants to proxy risk factors supports a role for few of these factors in invasive epithelial ovarian cancer overall and suggests distinct aetiologies across histotypes. The identification of novel risk factors remains an important priority for the prevention of epithelial ovarian cancer.
METHODS: In a population of 15,596 epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) cases and 23,236 controls, we measured genetic associations of 1,351 SNPs in Treg cell pathway genes with odds of ovarian cancer and tested pathway and gene-level associations, overall and by histotype, for the 25 genes, using the admixture likelihood (AML) method. The most significant single SNP associations were tested for correlation with expression levels in 44 ovarian cancer patients.
RESULTS: The most significant global associations for all genes in the pathway were seen in endometrioid ( p = 0.082) and clear cell ( p = 0.083), with the most significant gene level association seen with TGFBR2 ( p = 0.001) and clear cell EOC. Gene associations with histotypes at p < 0.05 included: IL12 ( p = 0.005 and p = 0.008, serous and high-grade serous, respectively), IL8RA ( p = 0.035, endometrioid and mucinous), LGALS1 ( p = 0.03, mucinous), STAT5B ( p = 0.022, clear cell), TGFBR1 ( p = 0.021 endometrioid) and TGFBR2 ( p = 0.017 and p = 0.025, endometrioid and mucinous, respectively).
CONCLUSIONS: Common inherited gene variation in Treg cell pathways shows some evidence of germline genetic contribution to odds of EOC that varies by histologic subtype and may be associated with mRNA expression of immune-complex receptor in EOC patients.
METHODS: We selected TF genes within 1 Mb of the top signal at the 12 genome-wide significant risk loci. Mutual information, a form of correlation, was used to build networks of genes strongly coexpressed with each selected TF gene in the unified microarray dataset of 489 serous EOC tumors from The Cancer Genome Atlas. Genes represented in this dataset were subsequently ranked using a gene-level test based on results for germline SNPs from a serous EOC GWAS meta-analysis (2,196 cases/4,396 controls).
RESULTS: Gene set enrichment analysis identified six networks centered on TF genes (HOXB2, HOXB5, HOXB6, HOXB7 at 17q21.32 and HOXD1, HOXD3 at 2q31) that were significantly enriched for genes from the risk-associated end of the ranked list (P < 0.05 and FDR < 0.05). These results were replicated (P < 0.05) using an independent association study (7,035 cases/21,693 controls). Genes underlying enrichment in the six networks were pooled into a combined network.
CONCLUSION: We identified a HOX-centric network associated with serous EOC risk containing several genes with known or emerging roles in serous EOC development.
IMPACT: Network analysis integrating large, context-specific datasets has the potential to offer mechanistic insights into cancer susceptibility and prioritize genes for experimental characterization.