Serum osteoprotegerin levels and mammographic density among high-risk women
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PURPOSE: Mammographic density is a risk factor for breast cancer but the mechanism behind this association is unclear. The receptor activator of nuclear factor κB (RANK)/RANK ligand (RANKL) pathway has been implicated in the development of breast cancer. Given the role of RANK signaling in mammary epithelial cell proliferation, we hypothesized this pathway may also be associated with mammographic density. Osteoprotegerin (OPG), a decoy receptor for RANKL, is known to inhibit RANK signaling. Thus, it is of interest to evaluate whether OPG levels modify breast cancer risk through mammographic density. METHODS: We quantified serum OPG levels in 57 premenopausal and 43 postmenopausal women using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Cumulus was used to measure percent density, dense area, and non-dense area for each mammographic image. Subjects were classified into high versus low OPG levels based on the median serum OPG level in the entire cohort (115.1 pg/mL). Multivariate models were used to assess the relationship between serum OPG levels and the measures of mammographic density. RESULTS: Serum OPG levels were not associated with mammographic density among premenopausal women (P ≥ 0.42). Among postmenopausal women, those with low serum OPG levels had higher mean percent mammographic density (20.9% vs. 13.7%; P = 0.04) and mean dense area (23.4 cm2 vs. 15.2 cm2; P = 0.02) compared to those with high serum OPG levels after covariate adjustment. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that low OPG levels may be associated with high mammographic density, particularly in postmenopausal women. Targeting RANK signaling may represent a plausible, non-surgical prevention option for high-risk women with high mammographic density, especially those with low circulating OPG levels.
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