The influence of genetic polymorphisms on the efficacy and side effects of anastrozole in postmenopausal breast cancer patients

Murtala Abubakar, Keat Wei, Siew Gan

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13 Citations (Scopus)


Breast cancer is a common cause of cancer mortality among women. Several genetic factors have been implicated in its development. Current treatment guidelines for estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer recommend that anastrozole [or any of the other two aromatase inhibitors (letrozole and exemestane)] is used as an alternative to tamoxifen or following several years of tamoxifen treatment. Nevertheless, this approach is still associated with many challenges, ranging from the recurrence of breast cancer to considerable interindividual variability in the tolerability of anastrozole, which may cause adverse effects, such as musculoskeletal symptoms, and lead to the withdrawal of many patients from treatment. Variabilities in the genes encoding the drug target (aromatase) or its metabolizing enzymes (CYP3A and UGT1A) contribute toward the interindividual variability in anastrozole's pharmacokinetics and/or pharmacodynamics. This paper reviews the role of genetic polymorphisms of CYP19A1, CYP3A4, and UGT1A4 in the responses of female hormone receptor-positive postmenopausal breast cancer patients to anastrozole. Many reviews in the literature have suggested that the study of functional polymorphisms and investigation of relevant genetic markers may provide valuable information in predicting responses to anastrozole in terms of its therapeutic and adverse effects. Nevertheless, more studies are required before the knowledge of its pharmacogenomics can be applied to the individualization of treatment to ensure that patients receive the maximum benefits. Therefore, future analyses, including but not limited to genome-wide association studies, are encouraged to address some of the gray areas in the pharmacogenomics of anastrozole therapy in postmenopausal breast cancer cases; this will help in providing guidance for future pharmacogenomics protocols when anastrozole is utilized in patients' management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)575-581
Number of pages7
JournalPharmacogenetics and Genomics
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 12 Dec 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Anastrozole
  • breast cancer
  • polymorphisms
  • postmenopausal

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