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01.12.2017 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2017 Open Access

BMC Cancer 1/2017

Can we use gonadotropin plasma concentration as surrogate marker for BMI-related incomplete estrogen suppression in breast cancer patients receiving anastrozole?

BMC Cancer > Ausgabe 1/2017
A. Oberguggenberger, V. Meraner, M. Sztankay, B. Beer, G. Weigel, H. Oberacher, G. Kemmler, T. Czech, B. Holzner, L. Wildt, B. Sperner-Unterweger, M. Daniaux, M. Hubalek



BMI has been suggested to impact on estrogenic activity in patients receiving anastrozole resulting in a reduced treatment efficacy in obese women. Current evidence in this regard is controversially discussed. Since estradiol is inversely correlated with gonadotropins it can be assumed that an impact of BMI is also reflected by gonadotropin plasma concentrations. We aim at investigating the impact of BMI on the hormonal state of breast cancer (BC) patients receiving anastrozole indicated by LH, FSH and SHBG as well as estradiol.


We determined gonadotropin-, estradiol- and anastrozole- serum concentrations from postmenopausal, early stage breast cancer patients receiving upfront anastrozole within routine after care. Gonadotropin plasma concentrations were derived from the routine laboratory examination report. A liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry method was used for the measurement of anastrozole serum concentrations. BMI was assessed within the routine after-care check-up.


The overall sample comprised 135 BC patients with a mean age of 65.3 years. BMI was significantly correlated with LH, FSH and SHBG. This association was neither influenced by age nor by anastrozole serum concentrations according to the regression model. Despite aromatase inhibition 12% of patients had detectable estrogen levels in routine quantification.


Obese women have an altered hormonal situation compared to normally weight women under the same dose of anastrozole. Our study findings are a further indicator for the relevance of BMI in regard of anastrozole metabolism and possible estrogenic activity indicated by gonadotropin plasma level.
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