K Lagergren, WE Ek, D Levine, W-H Chow, L Bernstein, AG Casson, HA Risch, NJ Shaheen, NC Bird, BJ Reid, DA Corley, LJ Hardie, AH Wu, RC Fitzgerald, P Pharoah, C Caldas, Y Romero, TL Vaughan, S MacGregor, D Whiteman, L Westberg, O Nyren, J Lagergren
BACKGROUND: The strong male predominance in oesophageal adenocarcinoma (OAC) and Barrett's oesophagus (BO) continues to puzzle. Hormonal influence, e.g. oestrogen or oxytocin, might contribute. METHODS: This genetic-epidemiological study pooled 14 studies from three continents, Australia, Europe, and North America. Polymorphisms in 3 key genes coding for the oestrogen pathway (receptor alpha (ESR1), receptor beta (ESR2), and aromatase (CYP19A1)), and 3 key genes of the oxytocin pathway (the oxytocin receptor (OXTR), oxytocin protein (OXT), and cyclic ADP ribose hydrolase glycoprotein (CD38)), were analysed using a gene-based approach, versatile gene-based test association study (VEGAS). RESULTS: Among 1508 OAC patients, 2383 BO patients, and 2170 controls, genetic variants within ESR1 were associated with BO in males (p = 0.0058) and an increased risk of OAC and BO combined in males (p = 0.0023). Genetic variants within OXTR were associated with an increased risk of BO in both sexes combined (p = 0.0035) and in males (p = 0.0012). We followed up these suggestive findings in a further smaller data set, but found no replication. There were no significant associations between the other 4 genes studied and risk of OAC, BO, separately on in combination, in males and females combined or in males only. CONCLUSION: Genetic variants in the oestrogen receptor alpha and the oxytocin receptor may be associated with an increased risk of BO or OAC, but replication in other large samples are needed.