Progesterone receptor promoter +331A polymorphism is associated with a reduced risk of endometrioid and clear cell ovarian cancers
Objective: The progestagenic milieu of pregnancy and oral contraceptive use is protective against epithelial ovarian cancer. A functional single nucleotide polymorphism in the promoter of the progesterone receptor (+331A) alters the relative abundance of the A and B isoforms and has been associated with an increased risk of endometrial and breast cancer. In this study, we sought to determine whether this polymorphism affects ovarian cancer risk. Methods: The +331G/A polymorphism was genotyped in a population-based, case-control study from North Carolina that included 942 Caucasian subjects (438 cases, 504 controls) and in a confirmatory group from Australia (535 cases, 298 controls). Logistic regression analysis was used to calculate age-adjusted odds ratios (OR). Results: There was a suggestion of a protective effect of the +331A allele (AA or GA) against ovarian cancer in the North Carolina study [OR, 0.72; 95% confidence interval (95% CI), 0.47-1.10]. Examination of genotype frequencies by histologic type revealed that this was due to a decreased risk of endometrioid and clear cell cancers (OR, 0.30; 95% CI, 0.09-0.97). Similarly, in the Australian study, there was a nonsignificant decrease in the risk of ovarian cancer among those with the +331A allele (OR, 0.83; 95% CI, 0.51-1.35) that was strongest in the endometrioid/clear cell group (OR, 0.60; 95% CI, 0.24-1.44). In the combined U.S.-Australian data that included 174 endometrioid/clear cell cases (166 invasive, 8 borderline), the +331A allele was significantly associated with protection against this subset of ovarian cancers (OR, 0.46; 95% CI, 0.23-0.92). Preliminary evidence of a protective effect of the +331A allele against endometriosis was also noted in control subjects (OR, 0.19; 95% CI, 0.03-1.38). Conclusions: These findings suggest that the +331G/A progesterone receptor promoter polymorphism may modify the molecular epidemiologic pathway that encompasses both the development of endometriosis and its subsequent transformation into endometrioid/clear cell ovarian cancer.