Urine biomarkers of risk in the molecular etiology of breast cancer

Nilesh W. Gaikwad, Li Yang, Sandhya Pruthi, James N. Ingle, Nicole Sandhu, Eleanor G. Rogan, Ercole L. Cavalieri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Endogenous estrogens can be bio-activated to endogenous carcinogens via formation of estrogen quinones. Estrogen-3,4-quinones react with DNA to form mutagenic depurinating estrogen-DNA adducts. The carcinogenicity of endogenous estrogens is related to unbalanced estrogen metabolism leading to excess estrogen quinones and formation of depurinating DNA adducts. The present studies were initiated to confi rm that relatively high levels of depurinating estrogen-DNA adducts are present in women at high risk for breast cancer or diagnosed with the disease. These adducts may be biomarkers for early detection of breast cancer risk. The estrogen metabolites, conjugates and depurinating DNA adducts were identifi ed and quantifi ed by using ultraperformance liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry to analyze urine samples from 40 healthy control women, 40 high-risk women and 40 women with newly diagnosed breast cancer. Estrogen metabolism was shifted from protective methoxylation and conjugation pathways in healthy control women towards activating pathways leading to formation of depurinating DNA adducts in women at high risk or with breast cancer. These results support the hypothesis that breast cancer is initiated by mutations derived from depurination of estrogen-DNA adducts. Therefore, relative levels of depurinating estrogen-DNA adducts could become biomarkers for early detection of breast cancer risk and aid in determining preventive strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalBreast Cancer: Basic and Clinical Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 6 2009


  • Balance in estrogen metabolism
  • Breast cancer risk
  • Depurinating estrogen-DNA adducts
  • Urinary estrogen biomarkers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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