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Open Access Research article

Correlation between Duffy blood group phenotype and breast cancer incidence

Xiao-feng Liu12, Lian-fang Li23, Zhou-luo Ou2, Rong Shen4* and Zhi-min Shao2*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Breast, Nanjing Maternity and Child Health Hospital of Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, 210004, People's Republic of China

2 Department of Breast surgery, Cancer Hospital/Cancer Institute, Department of Oncology, Fudan University, Shanghai, 200032, People's Republic of China

3 Department of Breast, Henan Province Tumor Hospital, Zhengzhou, 450008, People's Republic of China

4 Department of gynaecology/obstetrics, Nanjing Maternity and Child Health Hospital of Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, 210004, People's Republic of China

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BMC Cancer 2012, 12:374  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-12-374

Published: 28 August 2012



Different ethnicities have different distribution of Duffy blood group (DBG) phenotypes and different breast cancer morbidity. A study in our lab demonstrated that Duffy antigen/receptor for chemokines (DARC, also known as DBGP, the Duffy protein phenotype), led to the inhibition of tumorigenesis. Therefore, we tested the hypothesis that DBGP is correlated with breast cancer occurrence.


DBGP proteins were examined by indirect antiglobulin testing with anti-FYa and anti-FYb antibodies. The phenotypes were classified into four groups according to the agglutination reactions: FYa + FYb+, FYa + FYb-, FYa-FYb + and FYa-FYb-. The phenotypes and pathological diagnosis of consecutively hospitalized female patients (n = 5,022) suffering from breast cancer at the Shanghai Cancer Hospital and Henan Province Cancer Hospital were investigated. The relationships between DBGP expression with breast cancer occurrence, axillary lymph status, histological subtype, tumor size pathological grade and overall survival were analyzed.


The incidence of breast cancer was significantly different between FYa + FYb + (29.8%), FYa + FYb- (33.2%), FYa-FYb + (45.6%) and FYa-FYb- (59.1%; P = 0.001). Significant different numbers of breast cancer patients had metastases to the axillary lymph nodes in the FYa + FYb + group (25.1%), FYa + FYb- (36.9%), FYa-FYb + (41.0%) and FYa-FYb- (50.0%, (P = 0.005). There was a statistical significance (p = 0.022) of the overall survival difference between patients with difference phenotypes. No significant difference was observed in cancer size (t-test, p > 0.05), histological cancer type (Fisher's exact test, p > 0.05) or histological grade (Fisher's exact test, p > 0.05) between every each DBGP group.


DBGP is correlated with breast cancer incidence and axillary lymph node metastasis and overall survival. Further investigations are required to determine the underlying mechanism of Duffy blood group phenotype on breast cancer risk.

Duffy blood group; Duffy antigen/receptor for chemokines (DARC); Breast cancer