Polymorphisms in circadian genes, night work and breast cancer: Results from the GENICA study

The role of genetic variants and environmental factors in breast cancer aetiology has been intensively studied in the last decades. Gene-environment interactions are now increasingly being investigated to gain more insights into the development of breast cancer, specific subtypes, and therapeutics. Recently, night shift work that involves circadian disruption has gained rising interest as a potential non-genetic breast cancer risk factor. The present study analysed genetic polymorphisms in genes of cellular clocks, melatonin biosynthesis and signalling and their association with breast cancer as well as gene-gene and gene-night work interactions in a German case-control study on breast cancer. GENICA is a population-based case-control study on breast cancer conducted in the Greater Region of Bonn. Associations between seven polymorphisms in circadian genes (CLOCK, NPAS2, ARTNL, PER2 and CRY2), genes of melatonin biosynthesis and signalling (AANAT and MTNR1B) and breast cancer were analysed with conditional logistic regression models, adjusted for potential confounders for 1022 cases and 1014 controls. Detailed shift-work information was documented for 857 breast cancer cases and 892 controls. Gene-gene and gene-shiftwork interactions were analysed using model-based multifactor dimensionality reduction (mbMDR). the results showed that for combined heterozygotes and rare homozygotes a slightly elevated breast cancer risk was found for rs8150 in gene AANAT (OR 1.17; 95% CI 1.01-1.36), and a reduced risk for rs3816358 in gene ARNTL (OR 0.82; 95% CI 0.69-0.97) in the complete study population. In the subgroup of shift workers, rare homozygotes for rs10462028 in the CLOCK gene had an elevated risk of breast cancer (OR for AA vs. GG: 3.53; 95% CI 1.09-11.42). Shift work and CLOCK gene interactions were observed in the two-way interaction analysis. In addition, gene-shiftwork interactions were detected for MTNR1B with NPAS2 and ARNTL. In conclusion, the results of our population-based case-control study support a putative role of the CLOCK gene in the development of breast cancer in shift workers. In addition, higher order interaction analyses suggest a potential relevance of MTNR1B with the key transcriptional factor NPAS2 with ARNTL. Hence, in the context of circadian disruption, multivariable models should be preferred that consider a wide range of polymorphisms, e.g. that may influence chronotype or light sensitivity. The investigation of these interactions in larger studies is needed.

Authors: Rabstein S, Harth V, Justenhoven C, Pesch B, Plöttner S, Heinze E, Lotz A, Baisch C, Schiffermann M, Brauch H, Hamann U, Ko Y, Brüning T ;Full Source: Chronobiology International. 2014 Sep 17:1-8. [Epub ahead of print] ;