Androgen receptor in estrogen receptor positive breast cancer: Beyond expression

Debora Basile, Marika Cinausero, Donatella Iacono, Giacomo Pelizzari, Marta Bonotto, Maria Grazia Vitale, Lorenzo Gerratana, Fabio Puglisi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


In recent years, new therapeutic approaches have reshaped the overall strategy of breast cancer (BC) treatment and have markedly improved patient survival. This is, in part, due to novel therapies for estrogen receptor (ER)-positive BC. Unfortunately, many patients present de novo resistance to these therapies or develop an acquired resistance over time. Therefore, research is now focused on discovering new molecular targets to overcome these resistances. Interestingly, preclinical and clinical studies have shown a critical role for the cross-talk between androgen receptor (AR) and ER in luminal-like BC. AR is expressed in >60% of BC and in up to 90% of ERα-positive tumors. Multiple studies suggest that AR is associated with a favorable prognosis. However, AR overexpression and, in particular, the high AR:ER ratio, seem to be involved in resistance to hormonal treatment. In this setting, a group of BCs could benefit from AR-inhibitors; nevertheless, some ER-positive BC patients do not seem to benefit from this strategy. Therefore, it is crucial to identify biomarkers that would enable the selection of patients who might benefit from combination treatment with ER and AR inhibitors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-22
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Treatment Reviews
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2017


  • Androgen receptor
  • Anti-androgen therapy
  • Breast cancer
  • Endocrine resistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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