Increased androgen receptor expression in estrogen receptor-positive/progesterone receptor-negative breast cancer

  • Ximena García
  • Andrés Elía
  • Lucrecia Galizzi
  • María May
  • Eunice Spengler
  • Paula Martínez Vázquez
  • Javier Burruchaga
  • Hugo Gass
  • Claudia Lanari
  • Caroline A. LambEmail author
Brief Report



Expression of estrogen receptor alpha (ER) and/or progesterone receptor (PR) defines luminal breast cancer. Even though androgen (AR) and glucocorticoid receptors (GR) are highly expressed in luminal breast cancers, prognostic value remains uncertain and concomitant expression of these four hormone receptors is still unexplored.


Here, we evaluated ER, PR, AR, and GR expression, using immunohistochemistry, in a cohort of 169 breast cancer patients and correlated these findings with clinical and pathological parameters.


We found that AR is more frequently expressed and at higher levels in the ER+PR− subset compared to ER+PR+ tumors. There were no significant differences in GR expression between tumor subsets. Moreover, most luminal tumors also expressed either AR or GR and most basal tumors were also negative for AR and GR.


These data suggest that targeting AR in ER+PR− tumors may represent a promising therapeutic alternative in hormonal refractory tumors.


Androgen receptor Breast cancer Luminal B subtype Human samples 



The authors are very grateful to the staff of Hospital Magdalena V. de Martínez and to Dr. Silvia Vanzulli (Academia Nacional de Medicina) for the technical assistance.

Author contributions

XG, LG, and MM acquired and analyzed the data. AE analyzed the data and provided statistical support. ES, PMV, JB, and HG contributed for the collection of the samples. CL and CAL provided leadership in the development of the study, supervised the data analysis, and wrote the manuscript.


This work was funded by Instituto Nacional del Cáncer (Grant #2018–2019), Agencia Nacional de Promoción de Ciencia y Tecnología (ANAPCYT, PICT 2015/1022), Fundación para el Progreso de la Medicina (Grant #C03), Fundación Gador, Fundación René Barón and, Fundación Williams. AE is a CONICET doctoral fellow. LG is a fellow from Hospital Universitario Austral. CL and CAL are members of CONICET´s Research Career.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This study was approved by the Institutional Review Boards of the Hospital Magdalena V. de Martínez and IBYME-CONICET (CE 026/2012).

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in this study.

Research involving human participants and/or animals

This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

10549_2020_5527_MOESM1_ESM.pptx (200 kb)
Supplementary file1 (PPTX 200 kb)
10549_2020_5527_MOESM2_ESM.pptx (153 kb)
Supplementary file2 (PPTX 152 kb)—a-b % AR (a) or GR (b) expression in luminal tumorscategorized according to PR isoform expression. PRA-H: progesterone receptorisoform A higher than isoform B (PRA/PRB ≥ 1.2); PRB-H: progesterone receptorisoform B higher than isoform A (PRA/PRB ≤ 0.83); EQUI (0.83 < PRA/PRB < 1.2).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ximena García
    • 1
  • Andrés Elía
    • 1
  • Lucrecia Galizzi
    • 2
  • María May
    • 1
  • Eunice Spengler
    • 3
  • Paula Martínez Vázquez
    • 3
  • Javier Burruchaga
    • 3
  • Hugo Gass
    • 3
  • Claudia Lanari
    • 1
  • Caroline A. Lamb
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Instituto de Biología y Medicina Experimental (IBYME), CONICETBuenos AiresArgentina
  2. 2.Hospital Universitario AustralPilarArgentina
  3. 3.Hospital de Agudos Magdalena V de MartínezGeneral PachecoArgentina

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