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A novel signature predicts recurrence risk and therapeutic response in breast cancer patients


Acetylserotonin O-methyltransferase (ASMT) is a key enzyme in the synthesis of melatonin. Although melatonin has been shown to exhibit anticancer activity and prevents endocrine resistance in breast cancer, the role of ASMT in breast cancer progression remains unclear. In this retrospective study, we analyzed gene expression profiles in 27 data sets on 7244 patients from 11 countries. We found that ASMT expression was significantly reduced in breast cancer tumors relative to healthy tissue. Among breast cancer patients, those with higher levels of ASMT expression had better relapse-free survival outcomes and longer metastasis-free survival times. Following treatment with tamoxifen, patients with greater ASMT expression experienced longer periods before relapse or distance recurrence. Motivated by these results, we devised an ASMT gene signature that can correctly identify low-risk cases with a sensitivity and specificity of 0.997 and 0.916, respectively. This signature was robustly validated using 23 independent breast cancer mRNA array data sets from different platforms (consisting of 5800 patients) and an RNAseq data set from TCGA (comprising 1096 patients). Intriguingly, patients who are classified as high-risk by the signature benefit from adjuvant chemotherapy, and those with grade II tumors who are classified as low-risk exhibit improved overall survival and distance relapse-free outcomes following endocrine therapy. Together, our findings more clearly elucidate the roles of ASMT, provide strategies for improving the efficacy of tamoxifen treatment and help to identify those patients who may maximally benefit from adjuvant or endocrine therapies.

Type Journal
ISBN 1097-0215 (Electronic) 0020-7136 (Linking)
Authors Tran, Q. H.; Than, V. T.; Luu, P. L.; Clarke, D.; Lam, H. N.; Nguyen, T. T.; Nguyen, D. T.; Duy, P. Q.; Phung, D.; Nguyen, M. N.
Responsible Garvan Author Dr Phuc Loi Luu
Published Date 2021-06-30
Published Volume 148
Published Issue 11
Published Pages 2848-2856
Status Published in-print
DOI 10.1002/ijc.33512
URL link to publisher's version