Elevated Resistin Gene Expression in African American Estrogen and Progesterone Receptor Negative Breast Cancer


African American (AA) women diagnosed with breast cancer are more likely to have aggressive subtypes. Investigating differentially expressed genes between patient populations may help explain racial health disparities. Resistin, one such gene, is linked to inflammation, obesity, and breast cancer risk. Previous studies indicated that resistin expression is higher in serum and tissue of AA breast cancer patients compared to Caucasian American (CA) patients. However, resistin expression levels have not been compared between AA and CA patients in a stage- and subtype-specific context. Breast cancer prognosis and treatments vary by subtype. This work investigates differential resistin gene expression in human breast cancer tissues of specific stages, receptor subtypes, and menopause statuses in AA and CA women.


Differential gene expression analysis was performed using human breast cancer gene expression data from The Cancer Genome Atlas. We performed inter-race resistin gene expression level comparisons looking at receptor status and stage-specific data between AA and CA samples. DESeq was run to test for differentially expressed resistin values.


Resistin RNA was higher in AA women overall, with highest values in receptor negative subtypes. Estrogen-, progesterone-, and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2- negative groups showed statistically significant elevated resistin levels in Stage I and II AA women compared to CA women. In inter-racial comparisons, AA women had significantly higher levels of resistin regardless of menopause status. In whole population comparisons, resistin expression was higher among Stage I and III estrogen receptor negative cases. In comparisons of molecular subtypes, resistin levels were significant higher in triple negative than in luminal A breast cancer.


Resistin gene expression levels were significantly higher in receptor negative subtypes, especially estrogen receptor negative cases in AA women. Resistin may serve as an early breast cancer biomarker and possible therapeutic target for AA breast cancer.