Genistein and enterolactone in relation to Ki-67 expression and HER2 status in postmenopausal breast cancer patients

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Phytoestrogens (PE) may improve breast cancer prognosis by modifying tumor prognostic markers, such as cell proliferation marker Ki-67 and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). Epidemiological evidence linking lignans and isoflavones to Ki-67 and HER2 is limited. We examined associations between the major metabolites of lignans and isoflavones – enterolactone (ENL) and genistein (GEN) – respectively, and Ki-67 expression and HER2 in tumor tissue of breast cancer patients.

Methods and results

Data from 1060 invasive breast cancer patients from the population-based MARIE study were used. Multivariate-adjusted linear (Ki-67 log-transformed) and quantile regression, and logistic regression analyses (HER2, Ki-67 dichotomized) were performed to calculate β estimates and ORs, respectively. Median post-diagnostic ENL and GEN concentrations were 19.5 and 4.8 nmol/L, respectively. Median Ki-67 was 12.0%, and 21.2% of the tumors were HER2+. After adjustment, there was an inverse association between GEN and Ki-67 at high expression levels (OR for Ki-67 ≥20% versus <20% of 0.93 (95%CI [0.87;0.99]) per 10 nmol/L GEN increment).


Our findings indicate an inverse association between GEN and Ki-67 at high levels of Ki-67 expression. Additional investigations are recommended to confirm our findings and to further elucidate mechanisms linking PE metabolites to breast cancer survival.

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