Recently, there has been considerable interest in the association of specific cancers with single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). In this regard, genetic polymorphism at codon 72 (CCC/proline to CGC/arginine [Pro(72)Arg]) of the p53 gene is one of the most frequently studied subjects. An association between endometrial cancer and the polymorphism at codon 31 (AGC/serine to AGA/arginine [Ser(31)Arg]) of the p21 gene, which is known to be a downstream mediator of p53, has also been reported.
The authors designed a hospital-based case-control study of 95 endometrial cancer patients and 285 non-cancer controls. For the determination of p53 and p21 polymorphism, allele-specific polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism assay was applied, respectively.
We found statistically significant differences in the frequency of the p53 and p21 genotypes between these two groups (P < 0.001), respectively. The p53 genotypes containing the Pro allele were significantly associated with endometrial cancer with an odds ratio (OR) of 3.56 (95% confidence interval [CI] 2.10-6.04). Also, homozygous carriers of the p21 Ser allele showed a substantially increased risk of developing endometrial cancer (OR 2.68, 95% CI 1.59-4.51) as compared to homozygous and heterozygous carriers of the Arg allele. In addition, the combination of the pro allele containing genotypes of p53 and the Ser homozygous genotype of p21 posed a remarkably increased risk (OR 9.55, 95% CI 4.30-21.24) of endometrial cancer development. These significant differences were maintained throughout the groups after they were stratified by menopausal status.
These data suggest that there is a significant association between the genetic polymorphisms of p53, p21, and specific combinations of the at-risk genotypes of these genes and the risk of developing endometrial cancer in Korean women.