Germline pathogenic variants in metaplastic breast cancer patients and the emerging role of the BRCA1 gene

European journal of human genetics : EJHG(2023)

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Metaplastic breast cancer (MpBC) is a rare, aggressive breast cancer (BC) histotype. Scarce information is available about MpBC genetic predisposition. Previous studies, mainly consisting of case reports, retrospective reviews and others on target therapies, pointed to a possible involvement of the BRCA1 gene in increasing MpBC risk, without ever confirming it. In this study, we retrospectively reviewed all BC patients counseled at our Institute for genetic testing of at least BRCA1 or BRCA2 ( BRCA ) genes and we found that 23 (23/5226 = 0.4%) were affected by MpBC. About 65% (15/23) of MpBC patients harbored a germline pathogenic variant (PV): 13 in BRCA1 (86.7%), including two patients who received genetic testing for known familial PV, one in TP53 (6.7%), and one in MLH1 (6.7%). We observed a statistically different frequency of MpBC in patients who carried a PV in the BRCA genes (13/1114 = 1.2%) vs . all other BC patients (10/4112 = 0.2%) ( p = 0.0002). BRCA carriers proved to have an increased risk of developing MpBC compared to all other BC patients who were tested for BRCA genes (OR = 4.47; 95% CI: 1.95–10.23). Notably, MpBCs were diagnosed in 2.1% (13/610) of BRCA1 carriers. No MpBCs were observed in BRCA2 carriers (0/498 = 0%), revealing a statistically significant difference between the prevalence of MpBCs in BRCA1 and BRCA2 carriers ( p = 0.0015). Our results confirmed that BRCA1 is involved in MpBC predisposition. Further studies on unselected patients are needed to elucidate the authentic role of BRCA1 and to explore the possible implication of other genes in MpBC predisposition.
metaplastic breast cancer patients,brca1,breast cancer,breast cancer patients,pathogenic variants
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