Purpose: To determine if the degree of estrogen suppression with aromatase inhibitors (AI: anastrozole, exemestane, letrozole) is associated with efﬁcacy in early-stage breast cancer, and to examine for differences in the mechanism of action between the three AIs. Experimental Design: Matched case-control studies [247 matched sets from MA.27 (anastrozole vs. exemestane) and PreFace (letrozole) trials] were undertaken to assess whether estrone (E1) or estradiol (E2) concentrations after 6 months of adjuvant therapy were associated with risk of an early breast cancer event (EBCE). Preclinical laboratory studies included luciferase activity, cell proliferation, radio-labeled ligand estrogen receptor binding, surface plasmon resonance ligand receptor binding, and nuclear magnetic resonance assays. Results: Women with E1 ≥1.3 pg/mL and E2 ≥0.5 pg/mL after 6 months of AI treatment had a 2.2-fold increase in risk (P ¼ 0.0005) of an EBCE, and in the anastrozole subgroup, the increase in risk of an EBCE was 3.0-fold (P ¼ 0.001). Preclinical laboratory studies examined mechanisms of action in addition to aromatase inhibition and showed that only anastrozole could directly bind to estrogen receptor a (ERa), activate estrogen response element-dependent transcription, and stimulate growth of an aromatase-deﬁcient CYP19A1-/- T47D breast cancer cell line. Conclusions: This matched case-control clinical study revealed that levels of estrone and estradiol above identiﬁed thresholds after 6 months of adjuvant anastrozole treatment were associated with increased risk of an EBCE. Preclinical laboratory studies revealed that anastrozole, but not exemestane or letrozole, is a ligand for ERa. These ﬁndings represent potential steps towards individualized anastrozole therapy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research