OPG and PgR show similar cohort specific effects as prognostic factors in ER positive breast cancer

Nicole Sänger, Eugen Ruckhäberle, Giampaolo Bianchini, Tomas Heinrich, Karin Milde-Langosch, Volkmar Müller, Achim Rody, Erich Franz Solomayer, Tanja Fehm, Uwe Holtrich, Sven Becker, Thomas Karn*

*Corresponding author for this work
11 Citations (Scopus)


The RANK/RANKL/OPG pathway is well known for bone destruction in skeletal metastases but has also been implicated in osteoclast-independent roles in tumorigenesis and de novo metastasis. Experimental data suggest contribution of progesterone to tumorigenesis may be mediated by RANKL. Importantly, modulation of this pathway became possible through the availability of denosumab, an artificial counterpart of OPG, but significant gaps remain in the translation of preclinical findings on the pathway. We analyzed gene expression of RANK, RANKL and OPG from 40 Affymetrix datasets encompassing 4467 primary breast cancers and focused on ER positive disease. We did not observe a significant prognostic value of RANK and RANKL mRNA expression. In contrast, OPG was associated with a better prognosis among 1941ER positive cancers (HR 0.64, 95% CI 0.53-0.77; P<0.0001) using a cutoff from its highly bimodal expression. We detected considerable heterogeneity regarding the prognostic value of OPG between different datasets. This heterogeneity could neither be attributed to technical reasons nor to differences in standard clinical parameters or treatments of the cohorts. Interestingly, the prognostic value of the progesterone receptor and of OPG showed similar cohort specific effects. Still both factors were no surrogates for each other but contributed independent prognostic value in multivariate analyses. Thus, both OPG and PgR are independently associated with good prognosis in ER positive breast cancer. However both markers share common cohort specific differences in contrast to proliferation markers as Ki67 which may be based on the underlying biology.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMolecular Oncology
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)1196-1207
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 01.10.2014


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