Because hot flashes are a common symptom experienced by women with breast cancer, we sought to explore genetic predictors associated with response to acupuncture for the treatment of hot flashes.
Using data from our completed randomized controlled trial (Clinicaltrials.gov identifier: NCT01005108) on hot flashes among breast cancer survivors who provided biomarker collection (N = 108), we extracted and assayed DNA for single nucleotide polymorphisms in genes involved in neurotransmission, thermoregulation, and inflammation (ADORA1, COMT, TCL1A, and TRPV1). For our primary outcome we classified individuals with a 50% or more reduction in their hot flash composite score at the end of treatment as responders. We used Fisher exact test to identify individual and combined single nucleotide polymorphisms associated with treatment response.
Among women (N = 57) who received acupuncture treatment (electro or sham), we found that women who were carriers of at least one of these six genotypes (ADORA1 rs41264025-GA or rs16851029-GG or rs12744240-GT, COMT rs6269-GA, TCL1A rs2369049-GG, and TRPV1 rs8065080-TT) were more likely to respond to acupuncture for hot flashes than noncarriers (70.3% vs 37.5%, P = 0.035). These six genotypes were not associated with response in women (N = 51) who received pharmacological hot flash treatment (gabapentin or placebo pill; 37.5% vs 37.5%, P = 1.0).
In this exploratory, proof of concept study, we identified six genotypes that may predict response to acupuncture for hot flashes in breast cancer survivors. If confirmed by future studies, these findings may inform the development of personalized acupuncture for managing hot flashes.