Circulating RANKL and RANKL/OPG and breast cancer risk by ER and PR subtype: Results from the EPIC cohort

Danja Sarink, Helena Schock, Theron Johnson, Kim Overvad, Marianne Holm, Anne Tjønneland, Marie Christine Boutron-Ruault, Mathilde His, Marina Kvaskoff, Heiner Boeing, Pagona Lagiou, Eleni Maria Papatesta, Antonia Trichopoulou, Domenico Palli, Valeria Pala, Amalia Mattiello, Rosario Tumino, Carlotta Sacerdote, H. B. Bueno-De-Mesquita, Carla H. Van GilsPetra H. Peeters, Elisabete Weiderpass, Antonio Agudo, Maria José Sánchez, Maria Dolores Chirlaque, Eva Ardanaz, Pilar Amiano, Kay Tee Khaw, Ruth Travis, Laure Dossus, Mark Gunter, Sabina Rinaldi, Melissa Merritt, Elio Riboli, Rudolf Kaaks, Renée T. Fortner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Receptor activator of nuclear factor-kappa B (RANK)-RANK ligand (RANKL) signaling promotes mammary tumor development in experimental models. Circulating concentrations of soluble RANKL (sRANKL) may influence breast cancer risk via activation of RANK signaling; this may be modulated by osteoprotegerin (OPG), the decoy receptor for RANKL. sRANKL and breast cancer risk by hormone receptor subtype has not previously been investigated. A case-control study was nested in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) cohort. This study included 1, 976 incident invasive breast cancer cases [estrogen receptor positive (ER+), n=1, 598], matched 1:1 to controls. Women were pre- or postmenopausal at blood collection. Serum sRANKL was quantified using an ELISA, serum OPG using an electrochemiluminescent assay. Risk ratios (RR) and95% confidence intervals (95% CI) were calculated using conditional logistic regression. Associations between sRANKL and breast cancer risk differed by tumor hormone receptor status (Phet = 0.05). Higher concentrations of sRANKL were positively associated with risk of ER+ breast cancer [5th vs. 1st quintile RR 1.28 (95% CI, 1.01-1.63); Ptrend=0.20], but not ER-disease. For both ER+and estrogen and progesterone receptor positive (ER+PR+) breast cancer, results considering the sRANKL/OPG ratio were similar to those for sRANKL; we observed a suggestive inverse association between the ratio and ER-PR-disease [5th vs. 1st quintile RR = 0.60 (0.31-1.14); Ptrend=0.03]. This study provides the first largescale prospective data on circulating sRANKLand breast cancer. We observed limited evidence for an association between sRANKLand breast cancer risk. Cancer Prev Res; 10(9); 525-34.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)525-534
Number of pages10
JournalCancer Prevention Research
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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