Gene–gene interaction of AhRwith and within the Wntcascade affects susceptibility to lung cancer

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2 Scopus citations


Background: Aberrant Wnt signalling, regulating cell development and stemness, influences the development of many cancer types. The Aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) mediates tumorigenesis of environmental pollutants. Complex interaction patterns of genes assigned to AhR/Wnt-signalling were recently associated with lung cancer susceptibility. Aim: To assess the association and predictive ability of AhR/Wnt-genes with lung cancer in cases and controls of European descent. Methods: Odds ratios (OR) were estimated for genomic variants assigned to the Wnt agonist and the antagonistic genes DKK2, DKK3, DKK4, FRZB, SFRP4 and Axin2. Logistic regression models with variable selection were trained, validated and tested to predict lung cancer, at which other previously identified SNPs that have been robustly associated with lung cancer risk could also enter the model. Furthermore, decision trees were created to investigate variant × variant interaction. All analyses were performed for overall lung cancer and for subgroups. Results: No genome-wide significant association of AhR/Wnt-genes with overall lung cancer was observed, but within the subgroups of ever smokers (e.g., maker rs2722278 SFRP4; OR = 1.20; 95% CI 1.13–1.27; p = 5.6 × 10–10) and never smokers (e.g., maker rs1133683 Axin2; OR = 1.27; 95% CI 1.19–1.35; p = 1.0 × 10–12). Although predictability is poor, AhR/Wnt-variants are unexpectedly overrepresented in optimized prediction scores for overall lung cancer and for small cell lung cancer. Remarkably, the score for never-smokers contained solely two AhR/Wnt-variants. The optimal decision tree for never smokers consists of 7 AhR/Wnt-variants and only two lung cancer variants. Conclusions: The role of variants belonging to Wnt/AhR-pathways in lung cancer susceptibility may be underrated in main-effects association analysis. Complex interaction patterns in individuals of European descent have moderate predictive capacity for lung cancer or subgroups thereof, especially in never smokers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number14
JournalEuropean Journal of Medical Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Open Access funding enabled and organized by Projekt DEAL. The National Institutes of Health (7U19CA203654-02/ 397 114564-5111078 Integrative Analysis of Lung Cancer Etiology and Risk) supported this work. CARET is funded by the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health through grants U01 CA063673, UM1 CA167462, R01 CA 111703, RO1 CA 151989, U01 CA167462 and funds from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The Boston Lung Cancer Study was funded by NCI grant 5U01CA209414. Other individual funding for participating studies and members of INTEGRAL-ILCCO are listed elsewhere [, , ]. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. We acknowledge support by the Open Access Publication Funds of the Göttingen University.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


  • Association
  • Decision trees
  • Gene–gene integration
  • Never smoker
  • Polygenic risk score
  • Prediction
  • Small cell lung cancer
  • Susceptibility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (all)


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