Genetic variants in hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis genes and breast cancer risk in Caucasians and African Americans

Hongmei Nan, Joanne F. Dorgan, Timothy R. Rebbeck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


Elevated circulating levels of the adrenal androgen dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and its sulfate (DHEAS) are associated with increased breast cancer risk in prospective studies. Genetic variants in hypothalamicpituitary- adrenal (HPA) axis genes may contribute to these circulating hormone levels, and consequently to breast cancer risk. No previous studies have examined the effects of genetic variants in HPA axis genes on breast cancer risk. We evaluated the associations of 49 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in five HPA axis genes (NR3C1, NR3C2, CRH, CRHR1, and CRHBP) with the risk of breast cancer in the Women’s Insights and Shared Experiences (WISE) Study of Caucasians (346 cases and 442 controls), as well as African Americans (149 cases and 246 controls). Of the 49 SNPs evaluated, one showed a nominal significant association (P for trend < 0.05) with breast cancer risk among Caucasians, and another two among African Americans. The age-adjusted additive odds ratio (OR) (95% confidence interval (95% CI)) of the SNP rs11747190[A] in the CRHBP gene for the risk of breast cancer among Caucasian women was 1.45 (1.09-1.94). The age-adjusted additive ORs (95% CIs) of two SNPs (CRHBP rs1700688[T] and CRHR1 rs17689471[C]) for the risk of breast cancer among African American women were 1.84 (1.13-2.98) and 2.48 (1.20-5.13), respectively. However, these SNPs did not show significant associations after correction for multiple testing. Our findings do not provide strong supportive evidence for the contribution of genetic variants in these HPA axis genes to the risk of developing breast cancer in either Caucasians or African Americans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-40
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Epidemiology and Genetics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 12 2015


  • Breast cancer
  • HPA axis genes
  • Single nucleotide polymorphism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)

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