The risk of breast cancer transiently increases immediately following pregnancy; peaking between 3-7 years. The biology that underlies this risk window and the effect on the natural history of the disease is unknown. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs that have been shown to be dysregulated in breast cancer. We conducted miRNA profiling of 56 tumors from a case series of multiparous Hispanic women and assessed the pattern of expression by time since last full-term pregnancy. A data-driven splitting analysis on the pattern of 355 miRNAs separated the case series into two groups: a) an early group representing women diagnosed with breast cancer ≤ 5.2 years postpartum (n = 12), and b) a late group representing women diagnosed with breast cancer ≥ 5.3 years postpartum (n = 44). We identified 15 miRNAs with significant differential expression between the early and late postpartum groups; 60% of these miRNAs are encoded on the X chromosome. Ten miRNAs had a two-fold or higher difference in expression with miR-138, miR-660, miR-31, miR-135b, miR-17, miR-454, and miR-934 overexpressed in the early versus the late group; while miR-892a, miR-199a-5p, and miR-542-5p were underexpressed in the early versus the late postpartum group. The DNA methylation of three out of five tested miRNAs (miR-31, miR-135b, and miR-138) was lower in the early versus late postpartum group, and negatively correlated with miRNA expression. Here we show that miRNAs are differentially expressed and differentially methylated between tumors of the early versus late postpartum, suggesting that potential differences in epigenetic dysfunction may be operative in postpartum breast cancers.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)