Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 116, Issue 2, pp 413-423

First online:

Association between IGF1 CA microsatellites and mammographic density, anthropometric measures, and circulating IGF-I levels in premenopausal Caucasian women

  • Gordon FehringerAffiliated withDalla Lana School of Public Health, University of TorontoPopulation Studies, Cancer Care Ontario Email author 
  • , Hilmi OzcelikAffiliated withFred A. Litwin Centre for Cancer Genetics, Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, Mount Sinai HospitalDepartment of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Mount Sinai HospitalDepartment of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, University of Toronto
  • , Julia A. KnightAffiliated withProsserman Centre for Health Research, Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, Mount Sinai HospitalDalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto
  • , Andrew D. PatersonAffiliated withDalla Lana School of Public Health, University of TorontoProgram in Genetics and Genome Biology, The Hospital for Sick Children
  • , Norman F. BoydAffiliated withCampbell Family Institute for Breast Cancer Research

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Background Results from several studies indicate that mammographic density, a strong risk factor for breast cancer, is greater in premenopausal women with higher circulating IGF-I levels. Both mammographic density and circulating IGF-I levels appear to be partly heritable traits. We hypothesized that in premenopausal women, IGF1 variants are associated with circulating IGF-I concentration, which in turn influences variation in breast density. Therefore, we examined the association of IGF1 polymorphisms with circulating IGF-I levels and mammographic density. Methods Percentage density, amounts of dense and non-dense (fat) tissue, IGF-I levels, and BMI were measured in 163 premenopausal women. Three CA repeat polymorphisms were genotyped, one each at the 5′ and 3′ ends of IGF1 and one in intron 2. Results The number of 19 alleles at the 5′ polymorphism was associated with lower circulating levels of IGF-I (P = 0.02), whereas the number of 185 alleles at the 3′ polymorphism was associated with higher percentage density (P = 0.03) and a smaller amount of non-dense tissue (P = 0.02). The strength of the effect of the 185 allele at 3′ on percentage density was greatly reduced and statistical significance lost when BMI was included in regression models. Conclusions Our results suggest an association between the number of 185 alleles at 3′ with percentage density. This association appears to be mediated by body composition and particularly body fat, as indicated by the association of 3′ IGF1 genotype with non-dense (fat) tissue and the mediating effect of BMI on the association of 3′ genotype with percentage density.


Mammographic density Insulin-like growth factor-I Polymorphism Anthropometric Microsatellite