The HOXB13 gene has been implicated in prostate cancer (PrCa) susceptibility. We performed a high resolution fine-mapping analysis to comprehensively evaluate the association between common genetic variation across the HOXB genetic locus at 17q21 and PrCa risk. This involved genotyping 700 SNPs using a custom Illumina iSelect array (iCOGS) followed by imputation of 3195 SNPs in 20,440 PrCa cases and 21,469 controls in The PRACTICAL consortium. We identified a cluster of highly correlated common variants situated within or closely upstream of HOXB13 that were significantly associated with PrCa risk, described by rs117576373 (OR 1.30, P = 2.62×10−14). Additional genotyping, conditional regression and haplotype analyses indicated that the newly identified common variants tag a rare, partially correlated coding variant in the HOXB13 gene (G84E, rs138213197), which has been identified recently as a moderate penetrance PrCa susceptibility allele. The potential for GWAS associations detected through common SNPs to be driven by rare causal variants with higher relative risks has long been proposed; however, to our knowledge this is the first experimental evidence for this phenomenon of synthetic association contributing to cancer susceptibility.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified numerous low penetrance disease susceptibility variants, yet few causal alleles have been unambiguously identified. The underlying causal variants are expected to be predominantly common; however synthetic associations with rare, higher penetrance variants have been hypothesised though not yet observed. Here, we report detection of a novel common, low penetrance prostate cancer association at the HOXB locus at ch17q and show that this signal can actually be attributed to a previously identified rare, moderate penetrance coding variant (G84E) in HOXB13. This study therefore provides the first experimental evidence for the existence of synthetic associations in cancer and shows that where GWAS signals arise through this phenomenon, risk predictions derived using the tag SNP would substantially underestimate the relative risk conferred and overestimate the number of carriers of the causal variant. Synthetic associations at GWAS signals could therefore account for a proportion of the missing heritability of complex diseases.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified multiple common genetic variants associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer (PrCa), but these explain less than one-third of the heritability. To identify further susceptibility alleles, we conducted a meta-analysis of four GWAS including 5953 cases of aggressive PrCa and 11 463 controls (men without PrCa). We computed association tests for approximately 2.6 million SNPs and followed up the most significant SNPs by genotyping 49 121 samples in 29 studies through the international PRACTICAL and BPC3 consortia. We not only confirmed the association of a PrCa susceptibility locus, rs11672691 on chromosome 19, but also showed an association with aggressive PrCa [odds ratio = 1.12 (95% confidence interval 1.03–1.21), P = 1.4 × 10−8]. This report describes a genetic variant which is associated with aggressive PrCa, which is a type of PrCa associated with a poorer prognosis.
Prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in males in developed countries. To identify common prostate cancer susceptibility alleles, we genotyped 211,155 SNPs on a custom Illumina array (iCOGS) in blood DNA from 25,074 prostate cancer cases and 24,272 controls from the international PRACTICAL Consortium. Twenty-three new prostate cancer susceptibility loci were identified at genome-wide significance (P < 5 × 10−8). More than 70 prostate cancer susceptibility loci, explaining ~30% of the familial risk for this disease, have now been identified. On the basis of combined risks conferred by the new and previously known risk loci, the top 1% of the risk distribution has a 4.7-fold higher risk than the average of the population being profiled. These results will facilitate population risk stratification for clinical studies.
Ecological and epidemiological studies have identified an inverse association of intensity and duration of sunlight exposure with prostate cancer, which may be explained by a reduction in vitamin D synthesis. Pigmentation traits influence sun exposure and therefore may affect prostate cancer risk. Because observational studies are vulnerable to confounding and measurement error, we used Mendelian randomization to examine the relationship of sun exposure with both prostate cancer risk and the intermediate phenotype, plasma levels of vitamin D.
We created a tanning, a skin color and a freckling score as combinations of SNPs that have been previously associated with these phenotypes. A higher score indicates propensity to burn, have a lighter skin color and freckles. The scores were tested for association with vitamin D levels (25-hydroxyvitamin-D and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin-D) and PSA-detected prostate cancer in 3123 white British individuals enrolled in the Prostate Testing for cancer and Treatment (ProtecT) study.
The freckling score was inversely associated with 25(OH)D levels (change in 25(OH)D per score unit −0.27; 95%CI: −0.52, −0.01), and the tanning score was positively associated with prostate cancer risk (OR 1.05; 95%CI: 1.02,1.09), after adjustment for population stratification and potential confounders.
Individuals who tend to burn are more likely to spend less time in the sun and consequently have lower plasma vitamin D levels and higher susceptibility to prostate cancer.
The use of pigmentation related genetic scores is valuable for the assessment of the potential benefits of sun exposure with respect to prostate cancer risk.
pigmentation; tanning; sun exposure; vitamin D; prostate cancer
Alcohol is an established carcinogen but not an established risk factor for prostate cancer, despite some recent prospective studies suggesting increased risk among heavy drinkers. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of alcohol on prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels and prostate cancer risk. Two thousand four hundred PSA detected prostate cancer cases and 12,700 controls matched on age and general practice were identified through a case-control study nested in the PSA-testing phase of a large UK-based randomized controlled trial for prostate cancer treatment (ProtecT). Linear and multinomial logistic regression models were used to estimate ratios of geometric means (RGMs) of PSA and relative risk ratios (RRRs) of prostate cancer by stage and grade, with 95% confidence intervals (CIs), associated with weekly alcohol intake and drinking patterns. We found evidence of lower PSA (RGM 0.98, 95% CI: 0.98–0.99) and decreased risk of low Gleason-grade (RRR 0.96; 95%CI 0.93–0.99) but increased risk of high-grade prostate cancer (RRR 1.04; 95%CI 0.99–1.08; pdifference=0.004) per 10 units/week increase in alcohol consumption, not explained by current BMI, blood pressure, comorbidities, or reverse causation. This is the first large population-based study to find evidence of lower PSA levels for increasing alcohol consumption, with potential public health implications for the detection of prostate cancer. Our results also support a modestly higher risk of high-grade disease for heavy drinkers, but require independent replication to establish the nature of the association of alcohol with low-grade disease, preferably in cohorts with a heterogeneous case-mix.
Alcohol is not an established risk factor for prostate cancer; however, the current work suggests that heavy drinking could cause a small increase in risk of the more aggressive forms. If the results are confirmed to be causal, prostate cancer risk will be added to the many long-term health risks of heavy drinking, and public health strategies will then also reduce high-risk, poorer prognosis prostate cancer. The authors also found that heavy drinkers have lower PSA levels, suggesting that heavy alcohol consumption could be used as a marker to identify men in whom some cancers might be missed.
alcohol; prostate cancer; prostate specific antigen; ProtecT, nested case–control
Circulating vitamin B12 (cobalamin/B12) and total transcobalamin (tTC) have been associated with increased and reduced risk, respectively, of prostate cancer. Mendelian randomization has the potential to determine whether these are causal associations. We estimated associations of single nucleotide polymorphisms in B12-related genes (MTR, MTRR, FUT2, TCN2, TCN1, CUBN, and MUT) with plasma concentrations of B12, tTC, holo-transcobalamin, holo-haptocorrin, folate, and homocysteine and with prostate cancer risk in a case-control study (913 cases, 895 controls) nested within the UK-wide population-based ProtecT study of prostate cancer in men age 45-69 years. Instrumental variable (IV) analysis was used to estimate odds ratios for effects of B12 and tTC on prostate cancer. We observed that B12 was lower in men with FUT2 204G>A (rs492602), CUBN 758C>T (rs1801222) and MUT 1595G>A (rs1141321) alleles (Ptrend<0.001); tTC was lower in men with the TCN2 776C>G (rs1801198) allele (Ptrend<0.001). FUT2 204G>A and CUBN 758C>T were selected as instruments for B12; TCN2 776C>G for tTC. Conventional and IV estimates for the association of loge(B12) with prostate cancer were: OR=1.17 (95% CI 0.90-1.51), P=0.2 and OR=0.60 (0.16-2.15), P=0.4, respectively. Conventional and IV estimates for the association of loge(tTC) with prostate cancer were: OR=0.81 (0.54-1.20), P=0.3 and OR=0.41 (0.13-1.32), P=0.1, respectively. Confidence intervals around the IV estimates in our study were too wide to allow robust inference. Sample size estimates based on our data indicated that Mendelian randomization in this context requires much larger studies or multiple genetic variants that explain all of the variance in the intermediate phenotype.
Vitamin B12/cobalamin; transcobalamin; prostate cancer; Mendelian Randomization
To explore how patients' treatment preferences were expressed and justified during recruitment to a randomized controlled trial (RCT) and how they influenced participation and treatment decisions.
Study Design and Setting
Qualitative analysis of audio recordings of recruitment appointments with 93 participants aged 51–70 years in a UK multicenter RCT of localized prostate cancer treatments.
Treatment preferences at recruitment were more complex and dynamic than previously assumed. Most participants expressed views about treatments early in appointments, ranging on a continuum from hesitant to well-formed opinions. As recruiters elicited men’s views and provided detailed evidence-based treatment and study information, some opted for their preference, but many became uncertain and open to RCT recruitment, often accepting a different treatment from their original “preference.” Discussion of treatment preferences did not act as the expected barrier to recruitment but actively enabled many to express their concerns and reach an informed decision that often included RCT participation.
Exploring treatment preferences and providing evidence-based information can improve levels of informed decision making and facilitate RCT participation. Treatment preferences should be reconceptualized from a barrier to recruitment to an integral part of the information exchange necessary for informed decision making about treatments and RCT participation.
Treatment preferences; Prostate cancer; ProtecT study; Qualitative research methods; Randomized controlled trial; Recruitment to RCTs
Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) measurements are increasingly used to monitor men with localised prostate cancer (PCa), but there is little consensus about the method to use.
To apply age-specific predictions of PSA level (developed in men without cancer) to one cohort of men with clinically identified PCa and one cohort of men with PSA-detected PCa. We hypothesise that among men with clinically identified cancer, the annual increase in PSA level would be steeper than in men with PSA-detected cancer.
Design, setting, and participants
The Scandinavian Prostatic Cancer Group 4 (SPCG-4) cohort consisted of 321 men assigned to the watchful waiting arm of the SPCG-4 trial. The UK cohort consisted of 320 men with PSA-detected PCa in the Prostate Testing for Cancer and Treatment (ProtecT) study in nine UK centres between 1999 and 2007 who opted for monitoring rather than treatment. Multilevel models describing changes in PSA level were fitted to the two cohorts, and average PSA level at age 50, change in PSA level with age, and predicted PSA values were derived.
Results and limitations
In the SPCG-4 cohort, mean PSA at age 50 was similar to the cancer-free cohort but with a steeper yearly increase in PSA level (16.4% vs 4.0%). In the UK cohort, mean PSA level was higher than that in the cancer-free cohort (due to a PSA biopsy threshold of 3.0 ng/ml) but with a similar yearly increase in PSA level (4.1%). Predictions were less accurate for the SPCG-4 cohort (median observed minus predicted PSA level: −2.0 ng/ml; interquartile range [IQR]: −7.6–0.7 ng/ml) than for the UK cohort (median observed minus predicted PSA level: −0.8 ng/ml; IQR: −2.1–0.1 ng/ml).
In PSA-detected men, yearly change in PSA was similar to that in cancer-free men, whereas in men with symptomatic PCa, the yearly change in PSA level was considerably higher. Our method needs further evaluation but has promise for refining active monitoring protocols.
active surveillance; localised prostate cancer; PSA doubling time; PSA velocity; reference ranges
Prostate cancer (PrCa) is the most frequently diagnosed male cancer in developed countries. To identify common PrCa susceptibility alleles, we have previously conducted a genome-wide association study in which 541, 129 SNPs were genotyped in 1,854 PrCa cases with clinically detected disease and 1,894 controls. We have now evaluated promising associations in a second stage, in which we genotyped 43,671 SNPs in 3,650 PrCa cases and 3,940 controls, and a third stage, involving an additional 16,229 cases and 14,821 controls from 21 studies. In addition to previously identified loci, we identified a further seven new prostate cancer susceptibility loci on chromosomes 2, 4, 8, 11, and 22 (P=1.6×10−8 to P=2.7×10−33).
There is substantial evidence implicating environmental factors in the progression of prostate cancer. The metabolic consequences of a western lifestyle, such as obesity, insulin resistance and abnormal hormone production have been linked to prostate carcinogenesis through multiple overlapping pathways. Insulin resistance results in raised levels of the mitogens insulin and insulin-like growth factor-1, both of which may affect prostate cancer directly, or through their effect on other metabolic regulators. Obesity is associated with abnormal levels of adipocyte-derived peptides (adipokines), sex hormones and inflammatory cytokines. Adipokines have been shown to influence prostate cancer in both cell culture studies and observational, population level studies. Testosterone appears to have a complex relationship with prostate carcinogenesis, and it has been suggested that the lower levels associated with obesity may select for more aggressive androgen independent prostate cancer cells. Prostatic inflammation, caused by infection, urinary reflux or dietary toxins, frequently occurs prior to cancer development and may influence progression to advanced disease. High levels of ω-6 fatty acids in the diet may lead to the production of further inflammatory molecules that may influence prostate cancer. Increased fatty acid metabolism occurs within tumour cells, providing a potential target for prostate cancer therapies. Aberrations in amino acid metabolism have also been identified in prostate cancer tissue, particularly in metastatic cancer. This evidence indicates lifestyle interventions may be effective in reducing the incidence of clinical disease. However, much more research is needed before recommendations are made.
Prostate cancer; obesity; adipokines; insulin-like growth factors; diabetes; inflammation; metabolism
Urothelial carcinoma of the bladder (UCC) is a common disease that arises by at least two different molecular pathways. The biology of UCC is incompletely understood, making the management of this disease difficult. Recent evidence implicates a regulatory role for microRNA in cancer. We hypothesized that altered microRNA expression contributes to UCC carcinogenesis. To test this hypothesis we examined the expression of 322 microRNAs and their processing machinery in 78 normal and malignant urothelial samples using realtime rtPCR. Genes targeted by differentially expressed microRNA were investigated using realtime quantification and microRNA knock-down. We also examined the role of aberrant DNA hypermethylation in microRNA down-regulation. We found that altered microRNA expression is common in UCC and occurs early in tumorogenesis. In normal urothelium from patients with UCC 11% of microRNA’s had altered expression when compared to disease-free controls. This was associated with upregulation of Dicer, Drosha and Exportin 5. In UCC, microRNA alterations occur in a tumor phenotype-specific manner and can predict disease progression. High-grade UCC were characterized by microRNA upregulation, including microRNA-21 that suppresses p53 function. In low-grade UCC there was down-regulation of many microRNA molecules. In particular, loss of microRNAs-99a/100 leads to upregulation of FGFR3 prior to its mutation. Promoter hypermethylation is partly responsible for microRNA down-regulation. In conclusion, distinct microRNA alterations characterize UCC and target genes in a pathway-specific manner. These data reveal new insights into the disease biology and have implications regarding tumor diagnosis, prognosis and therapy.
Epidemiological studies have identified a positive association between prostate cancer and recent onset type 2 diabetes mellitus but an increasingly inverse association with greater duration of type 2 diabetes. The mecha- nisms underlying these paradoxical associations are not clear. A single nucleotide polymorphism in the glucokinase gene, rs1799884, is associated with higher circulating plasma fasting glucose and with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. We report a case-control study nested within the population-based Prostate testing for cancer and Treatment (ProtecT) study ISRCTN20141297. Men aged 50-69 years based around 9 UK cities were invited for a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test between June 2002 and November 2006. 1,551 cases and 2,993 controls were geno-typed. We observed suggestive evidence for a positive association between the AA variant rs1799884 and PSA-detected prostate cancer (ORAA V GG= 1.40, 95% CI= 0.95 to 2.07). There was little evidence that this effect was greater for more advanced stage/ grade cancers (ORAA V GG= 1.78, 95% CI= 0.99 to 3.21) versus less advanced cancers (ORAA V GG= 1.23, 95% CI= 0.77 to 1.94) (p for interaction = 0.33). The rs1799884 genotype was not associated with PSA concentration, suggesting that any effect on prostate cancer risk is not attributable to PSA detection bias. Our results provide suggestive evidence for a link between a genotype associated with type 2 diabetes mellitus and PSA-detected prostate cancer. We hypothesize that hyperglycaemia may be important in mediating this relationship.
Single nucleotide polymorphisms; glucokinase; GCK; rs1799884; prostate cancer; diabetes; insulin; case-control study; prostate specific antigen
Recent studies based on genome-wide association, linkage, and admixture scan analysis have reported associations of various genetic variants in 8q24 with susceptibility to breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer. This locus lies within a 1.18-Mb region that contains no known genes but is bounded at its centromeric end by FAM84B and at its telomeric end by c-MYC, two candidate cancer susceptibility genes. To investigate the associations of specific loci within 8q24 with specific cancers, we genotyped the nine previously reported cancer-associated single-nucleotide polymorphisms across the region in four case–control sets of prostate (1854 case subjects and 1894 control subjects), breast (2270 case subjects and 2280 control subjects), colorectal (2299 case subjects and 2284 control subjects), and ovarian (1975 case subjects and 3411 control subjects) cancer. Five different haplotype blocks within this gene desert were specifically associated with risks of different cancers. One block was solely associated with risk of breast cancer, three others were associated solely with the risk of prostate cancer, and a fifth was associated with the risk of prostate, colorectal, and ovarian cancer, but not breast cancer. We conclude that there are at least five separate functional variants in this region.
There is evidence that a substantial part of genetic predisposition to prostate cancer (PCa) may be due to lower penetrance genes which are found by genome-wide association studies. We have recently conducted such a study and seven new regions of the genome linked to PCa risk have been identified. Three of these loci contain candidate susceptibility genes: MSMB, LMTK2 and KLK2/3. The MSMB and KLK2/3 genes may be useful for PCa screening, and the LMTK2 gene might provide a potential therapeutic target. Together with results from other groups, there are now 23 germline genetic variants which have been reported. These results have the potential to be developed into a genetic test. However, we consider that marketing of tests to the public is premature, as PCa risk can not be evaluated fully at this stage and the appropriate screening protocols need to be developed. Follow-up validation studies, as well as studies to explore the psychological implications of genetic profile testing, will be vital prior to roll out into healthcare.
prostate cancer; genetics; susceptibility loci; SNPs; relative risks
Objective To investigate the feasibility of testing for prostate cancer and the prevalence and characteristics of the disease in unselected young men.
Design Prospective cohort nested within a randomised controlled trial, with two years of follow-up.
Setting Eight general practices in a UK city.
Participants 1299 unselected men aged 45-49.
Intervention Prostate biopsies for participants with a prostate specific antigen level of 1.5 ng/ml or more and the possibility of randomisation to three treatments for those with localised prostate cancer.
Main outcome measures Uptake of testing for prostate specific antigen; positive predictive value of prostate specific antigen; and prevalence of prostate cancer, TNM disease stage, and histological grade (Gleason score).
Results 442 of 1299 men agreed to be tested for prostate specific antigen (34%) and 54 (12%) had a raised level. The positive predictive value for prostate specific antigen was 21.3%. Ten cases of prostate cancer were detected (2.3%) with eight having at least two positive results in biopsy cores and three showing perineural invasion. One tumour was of high volume (cT2c), Gleason score 7, with a positive result on digital rectal examination; nine tumours were cT1c, Gleason score 6, and eight had a negative result on digital rectal examination. Five of the nine eligible participants (55%) agreed to be randomised. No biochemical disease progression in the form of a rising prostate specific antigen level occurred in two years of follow-up.
Conclusions Men younger than 50 will accept testing for prostate cancer but at a much lower rate than older men. Using an age based threshold of 1.5 ng/ml, the prevalence of prostate cancer was similar to that in older men (3.0 ng/ml threshold) and some cancers of potential clinical significance were found.
Trial registration Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN20141297
Disturbed folate metabolism is associated with an increased risk of some cancers. Our objective was to determine whether blood levels of folate, vitamin B12 and related metabolites were associated with prostate cancer risk.
Matched case-control study nested within the UK population-based ProtecT study of PSA-detected prostate cancer in men aged 50–69 years. Plasma concentrations of folate, B12 (cobalamin), holo-haptocorrin, holo- and total-transcobalamin, and total homocysteine (tHcy) were measured in 1,461 cases and 1,507 controls. ProtecT study estimates for associations of folate, B12, and tHcy with prostate cancer risk were included in a meta-analysis, based on a systematic review.
In the ProtecT study, increased B12 and holo-haptocorrin concentrations showed positive associations with prostate cancer risk (highest vs lowest quartile of B12 odds ratio (OR)=1.17 (95% CI 0.95–1.43), P-for-trend=0.06; highest vs lowest quartile of holo-haptocorrin OR=1.27 (1.04–1.56), P-for-trend=0.01); folate, holo-transcobalamin and tHcy were not associated with prostate cancer risk. In the meta-analysis, circulating B12 levels were associated with an increased prostate cancer risk (pooled OR=1.10 (1.01–1.19) per 100 pmol/L increase in B12, P=0.002); the pooled OR for the association of folate with prostate cancer was positive (OR=1.11 (0.96–1.28) per 10 nmol/L, P=0.2) and conventionally statistically significant if ProtecT (the only case-control study) was excluded (OR=1.18 (1.00–1.40) per 10 nmol/L, P=0.02).
Vitamin B12 and (in cohort studies) folate were associated with increased prostate cancer risk.
Given current controversies over mandatory fortification, further research is needed to determine whether these are causal associations.
folate; vitamin B12; cobalamin; transcobalamin; haptocorrin; homocysteine; folate-mediated one-carbon metabolism; prostate cancer
Mean telomere length (TL) in blood cells is heritable and has been reported to be associated with risks of several diseases, including cancer. We conducted a meta-analysis of three GWAS for TL (total n=2240) and selected 1629 variants for replication via the “iCOGS” custom genotyping array. All ∼200 000 iCOGS variants were analysed with TL, and those displaying associations in healthy controls (n = 15 065) were further tested in breast cancer cases (n = 11 024). We found a novel TL association (Ptrend < 4 × 10−10) at 3p14.4 close to PXK and evidence (Ptrend < 7 × 10−7) for TL loci at 6p22.1 (ZNF311) and 20q11.2 (BCL2L1). We additionally confirmed (Ptrend < 5 × 10−14) the previously reported loci at 3q26.2 (TERC), 5p15.3 (TERT) and 10q24.3 (OBFC1) and found supportive evidence (Ptrend < 5 × 10−4) for the published loci at 2p16.2 (ACYP2), 4q32.2 (NAF1) and 20q13.3 (RTEL1). SNPs tagging these loci explain TL differences of up to 731 bp (corresponding to 18% of total TL in healthy individuals), however, they display little direct evidence for association with breast, ovarian or prostate cancer risks.