Genetic variants associated with mandibular osteoradionecrosis following radiotherapy for head and neck malignancy

Rachel C. Brooker, Philipp Antczak, Triantafillos Liloglou, Janet M. Risk, Joseph J. Sacco, Andrew G. Schache, Richard J. Shaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output


Utilising radiotherapy in the management of head and neck cancer (HNC) often results in long term toxicities. Mandibular osteoradionecrosis (ORN) represents a late toxicity associated with significant morbidity. We aim to identify a panel of common genetic variants which can predict ORN to aid development of personalised radiotherapy protocols.


Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) arrays were applied to DNA samples from patients who had prior HNC radiotherapy and minimum two years follow-up. A case cohort of mandibular ORN was compared to a control group of participants recruited to CRUK HOPON clinical trial. Relevant clinical parameters influencing ORN risk (e.g. smoking/alcohol) were collected. Significant associations from array data were internally validated using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and pyrosequencing.


Following inclusion of 141 patients in the analysis (52 cases, 89 controls), a model predictive for ORN was developed; after controlling for alcohol consumption, smoking, and age, 4053 SNPs were identified as significant. This was reduced to a representative model of 18 SNPs achieving 92% accuracy. Following internal technical validation, a six SNP model (rs34798038, rs6011731, rs2348569, rs530752, rs7477958, rs1415848) was retained within multivariate regression analysis (ROC AUC 0.859). Of these, four SNPs (rs34798038 (A/G) (p 0.006), rs6011731 (C/T) (p 0.018), rs530752 (A/G) (p 0.046) and rs2348569 (G/G) (p 0.005)) were significantly associated with the absence of ORN.


This is the first genome wide association study in HNC using ORN as the endpoint and offers new insight into ORN pathogenesis. Subject to validation, these variants may guide patient selection for personalised radiotherapy strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-93
Number of pages7
JournalRadiotherapy and Oncology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • head and neck cancer
  • genome wide association studies
  • mandible
  • osteoradionecrosis
  • radiotherapy
  • single nucleotide polymorphism


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