Body fatness and mTOR pathway activation of breast cancer in the Women’s Circle of Health Study

Ting Yuan David Cheng, Angela R. Omilian, Song Yao, Pamela V. Sanchez, Latasia Z. Polk, Weizhou Zhang, Susmita Datta, Wiam Bshara, Rochelle Payne Ondracek, Warren Davis, Song Liu, Chi Chen Hong, Elisa V. Bandera, Thaer Khoury, Christine B. Ambrosone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Energy imbalance has an important role in breast cancer prognosis. Hyperactive mechanistic Target of Rapamycin (mTOR) pathway is associated with breast tumor growth, but the extent to which body fatness is associated with mTOR pathway activities in breast cancer is unclear. We performed immunostaining for mTOR, phosphorylated (p)-mTOR, p-AKT, and p-p70S6K in tumor tissue from 590 women (464 African Americans/Blacks and 126 Whites) with newly diagnosed invasive breast cancer in the Women’s Circle of Health Study. Anthropometric measures were taken by study staff, and body composition was measured by bioelectrical impedance analysis. Linear regressions were used to estimate percent differences in protein expression between categories of body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, waist/hip ratio, fat mass, fat mass index, and percent body fat. We observed that BMI ≥ 35.0 vs. <25 kg/m2 was associated with 108.3% (95% CI = 16.9%–270.9%) and 101.8% (95% CI = 17.0%–248.8%) higher expression in p-mTOR and normalized p-mTOR, i.e., p-mTOR/mTOR, respectively. Quartiles 4 vs. 1 of waist/hip ratio was associated with 41.8% (95% CI = 5.81%–89.9%) higher mTOR expression. Similar associations were observed for the body fat measurements, particularly in patients with estrogen receptor-negative (ER−) tumors, but not in those with ER+ tumors, although the differences in associations were not significant. This tumor-based study found positive associations between body fatness and mTOR pathway activation, evident by a p-mTOR expression, in breast cancer. Our findings suggest that mTOR inhibition can be a treatment strategy to prevent the recurrence of these tumors in obese individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number45
Journalnpj Breast Cancer
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Body fatness and mTOR pathway activation of breast cancer in the Women’s Circle of Health Study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this