Consideration of breast cancer subtype in targeting the androgen receptor

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Venema CM, Bense RD, Steenbruggen TG, Nienhuis HH, Qiu SQ, van Kruchten M, Brown M, Tamimi RM, Hospers GAP, Schröder CP, Fehrmann RSN, de Vries EGE.


The androgen receptor (AR) is a drug target in breast cancer, and AR-targeted therapies have induced tumor responses in breast cancer patients. In this review, we summarized the role of AR in breast cancer based on preclinical and clinical data. Response to AR-targeted therapies in unselected breast cancer populations is relatively low. Preclinical and clinical data show that AR antagonists might have a role in estrogen receptor (ER)-negative/AR-positive tumors. The prognostic value of AR for patients remains uncertain due to the use of various antibodies and cut-off values for immunohistochemical assessment. To get more insight into the role of AR in breast cancer, we additionally performed a retrospective pooled analysis to determine the prognostic value of the AR using mRNA profiles of 7270 primary breast tumors. Our analysis shows that a higher AR mRNA level is associated with improved disease outcome in patients with ER-positive/human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-negative tumors, but with worse disease outcome in HER2-positive subgroups. In conclusion, next to AR expression, incorporation of additional tumor characteristics will potentially make AR targeting a more valuable therapeutic strategy in breast cancer.