Background: Genetics play a significant role in drug metabolism of endocrine therapy of breast
cancer. These aspects have been studied extensively in patients on tamoxifen, but the pharmacogenetics of aromatase
inhibitors are less established. In contrast to the protective effect of tamoxifen, aromatase inhibitors are
linked with an increased risk for bone loss and fractures.
Objective: This review outlines key issues in the implementation of pharmacogenetics of cytochrome P450 and
tamoxifen as a model for optimal use of aromatase inhibitors in postmenopausal women with estrogen receptor
positive breast cancer.
Methods: Lessons learnt from the association between tamoxifen and CYP2D6 genotyping were applied to
identify polymorphisms with the potential to change clinical decision-making in patients on aromatase inhibitors.
The ability of next generation sequencing to supersede single-gene analysis was furthermore evaluated in a
subset of breast cancer patients on aromatase inhibitors selected from a central genomics database.
Results: Methodological flaws in major randomised controlled trials and continued referral to incorrect results
in expert consensus statements are important factors delaying the implementation of CYP2D6 pharmacogenetics
in tamoxifen treatment. This highlighted the importance of a clinical pipeline including comprehensive genotyping,
to define the target population most likely to benefit from aromatase inhibitor pharmacogenetics.
Conclusion: The clinical utility of CYP2D6 genotyping is well-established in patients at increased risk of tamoxifen
resistance due to cumulative risk. The pharmacogenetics of CYP19A1 requires further clarification in
terms of bone risk assessment for appropriate use in the treatment algorithm of high-risk patients at the onset of