Progesterone is a proliferative hormone in the breast but the associations of genetic variations in progesterone-regulated pathways with mammographic breast density (MD) in premenopausal women and whether these associations are mediated through circulating progesterone are not clearly defined. We, therefore, investigated these associations in 364 premenopausal women with a median age of 44 years. We sequenced 179 progesterone receptor (PGR)-related single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). We measured volumetric percent density (VPD) and non-dense volume (NDV) using Volpara. Linear regression models were fit on circulating progesterone or VPD/NDV separately. We performed mediation analysis to evaluate whether the effect of a SNP on VPD/NDV is mediated through circulating progesterone. All analyses were adjusted for confounders, phase of menstrual cycle and the Benjamini–Hochberg false discovery (FDR) adjusted p-value was applied to correct for multiple testing. In multivariable analyses, only PGR rs657516 had a direct effect on VPD (averaged direct effect estimate = − 0.20, 95%CI = − 0.38 ~ − 0.04, p-value = 0.02) but this was not statistically significant after FDR correction and the effect was not mediated by circulating progesterone (mediation effect averaged across the two genotypes = 0.01, 95%CI = − 0.02 ~ 0.03, p-value = 0.70). Five SNPs (PGR rs11571241, rs11571239, rs1824128, rs11571150, PGRMC1 rs41294894) were associated with circulating progesterone but these were not statistically significant after FDR correction. SNPs in PGR-related genes were not associated with VPD, NDV and circulating progesterone did not mediate the associations, suggesting that the effects, if any, of these SNPs on MD are independent of circulating progesterone.
- Mammographic breast density