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Breast Cancer Res [journal]
- Overdiagnosis in breast cancer screening: the importance of length of observation period and lead time. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Breast Cancer Res 2013 May 16; 15(3):R41.
INTRODUCTION:Overdiagnosis in breast cancer screening is a controversial topic. One difficulty in estimation of overdiagnosis is the separation of overdiagnosis from lead time that is the advance in the time of diagnosis of cancers, which confers an artificial increase in incidence when a screening programme is introduced.
METHODS:We postulated a female population aged 50-79 with a similar age structure and age-specific breast cancer incidence as in England and Wales before the screening programme. We then imposed a two-yearly screening programme; screening women aged 50-69, to run for twenty years, with exponentially distributed lead time with an average of 40 months in screen-detected cancers. We imposed no effect of the screening on incidence other than lead time.
RESULTS:Comparison of age- and time-specific incidence between the screened and unscreened populations showed a major effect of lead time, which could only be adjusted for by follow-up for more than two decades and including ten years after the last screen. From lead time alone, twenty-year observation at ages 50-69 would confer an observed excess incidence of 37%. The excess would only fall below 10% with 25 years or more follow-up. For the excess to be nullified, we would require 30 year follow-up including observation up to 10 years above the upper age limit for screening.
CONCLUSIONS:Studies using shorter observation periods will overestimate overdiagnosis by inclusion of cancers diagnosed early due to lead time among the nominally overdiagnosed tumours.
- Illuminating luminal B: QSOX1 as a subtype-specific biomarker. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Breast Cancer Res 2013 May 15; 15(3):104.
Breast cancer is a complex and heterogeneous disease that affects about one out of every eight women. In the last decade, several advancements have been made that have increased our understanding of breast cancer and have allowed us to more accurately diagnose and treat this disease in a more targeted manner. For example, gene expression profiling enabled the classification of breast cancers into four main subtypes - basal-like, HER2+ (human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-positive), luminal A and luminal B - and this classification is used to direct the use of targeted therapies such as tamoxifen or trastuzumab. The luminal subtypes are generally characterized as being estrogen receptor-positive and targetable with anti-hormone therapies. However, whereas luminal A cancers have a good prognosis, luminal B cancers are associated with early relapse following endocrine therapy and a prognosis that is similar to that of the aggressive basal subtype. It is thus imperative that luminal B cancers be better characterized so that therapeutic targets and biomarkers for this disease type can be realized. In the previous issue of Breast Cancer Research, Katchman and colleagues address this need by demonstrating that quiescin sulfydryl oxidase 1 (QSOX1), a secreted enzyme involved in post-translational modifications, is associated with poor prognosis in patients with luminal B breast cancer. The authors further determined that this protein promotes breast cancer proliferation and invasion. Collectively, these studies suggest that QSOX1 is a predictive biomarker for luminal cancers and that it may be a useful target for elusive luminal B disease.
- Tissue transglutaminase as a central mediator in inflammation-induced progression of breast cancer. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Breast Cancer Res 2013 Feb 25; 15(1):202.
TGM2 is a stress-responsive gene that encodes a multifunctional and structurally complex protein called tissue transglutaminase (abbreviated as TG2 or tTG). TGM2 expression is frequently upregulated during inflammation and wounding. Emerging evidence indicates that TGM2 expression is aberrantly upregulated in multiple cancer cell types, particularly those selected for resistance to chemotherapy and radiation therapy and those isolated from metastatic sites. It is becoming increasingly evident that chronic expression of TG2 in epithelial cancer cells initiates a complex series of signaling networks which contributes to the development of drug resistance and an invasive phenotype. For example, forced or basal high expression of TG2 in mammary epithelial cells is associated with activation of nuclear transcription factor-kappa B (NF-κB), Akt, focal adhesion kinase, and hypoxia-inducible factor. All of these changes are considered hallmarks of aggressive tumors. TG2 expression is able to induce the developmentally regulated program of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and to confer cancer stem cell (CSC) traits in mammary epithelial cells; both EMT and CSCs have been implicated in cancer metastasis and resistance to standard therapies. Importantly, TG2 expression in tumor samples is associated with poor disease outcome, increased drug resistance, and increased incidence of metastasis. These observations imply that TG2 plays a crucial role in promoting an aggressive phenotype in mammary epithelial cells. In this review, we discuss recent evidence that TG2-regulated pathways contribute to the aggressive phenotype in breast cancer.
- High mammographic density in women of Ashkenazi Jewish descent. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Breast Cancer Res 2013 May 13; 15(3):R40.
INTRODUCTION:Percent mammographic density (PMD) adjusted for age and BMI is one of the strongest risk factors for breast cancer and is known to be approximately 60 percent heritable. Here we report a finding of an association between genetic ancestry and adjusted PMD.
METHODS:We selected self-identified Caucasian women in the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute Cohort whose screening mammograms placed them in the top or bottom quintiles of age- and body mass index-adjusted PMD. Our final data set included 474 women with the highest adjusted PMD and 469 with the lowest genotyped on the Illumina 1M platform. Principal component analysis (PCA) and identity-by-descent (IBD) analyses allowed us to infer the women's genetic ancestry and correlate it with adjusted PMD.
RESULTS:Women of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry, as defined by the first principal component (PC1) of PCA and identity-by-descent analyses, represented approximately 15 percent of the sample. Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry, defined by PC1, was associated with higher adjusted PMD (p = 0.004). Using multivariate regression to adjust for epidemiologic factors associated with PMD, including age at parity and use of postmenopausal hormone therapy, did not attenuate the association.
CONCLUSION:Women of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry based on genetic analysis are more likely to have high age- and BMI-adjusted PMD. Ashkenazi Jews may have a unique set of genetic variants or environmental risk factors that increase mammographic density.
- The expression and significance of insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor and its pathway on breast cancer stem/progenitors. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Breast Cancer Res 2013 May 12; 15(3):R39.
INTRODUCTION:Dysregulation of the insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor (IGF-1R)/ PI3K/Akt pathway was shown to correlate with breast cancer disease progression. Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are a subpopulation within cancer cells which participate in tumor initiation, radio/chemoresistance and metastasis. In breast cancer, breast CSCs (BCSCs) were identified as CD24-CD44+ cells or cells with high intracellular aldehyde dehydrogenase activity (ALDH+). Elucidation of the role of IGF-1R in breast cancer stem cells (BCSCs) is crucial to the design of breast cancer therapies targeting BCSCs.
METHODS:IGF-1R expression in BCSCs and non-CSCs sorted from xenografts of human primary breast cancers was examined by FACS, western blot analysis and immunoprecipitation (IP). The role of IGF-1R in BCSCs was assessed by IGF-1R blockade with chemical inhibitor and gene silencing. The involvement of PI3K/Akt/mTOR as downstream pathway was studied by their phosphorylation status upon IGF-1R inhibition and the effects of chemical inhibitors of these signaling molecules on BCSCs. We also studied 16 clinical specimens of breast cancer for the expression of phosphor-Akt in the BCSCs by FACS.
RESULTS:Expression of phosphorylated IGF-1R was greater in BCSCs than in non-BCSCs from xenografts of human breast cancer which were supported by western blot and IP experiments. The sorted IGF-1R expressing cells displayed features of cancer stem/progenitors such as mammosphere formation in vitro and tumorigenicity in vivo, both of which were suppressed by knockdown of IGF-1R. A specific inhibitor of the IGF-1R, PPP, suppressed the phospho-AktSer473 and preferentially decreased ALDH+ BCSC populations of human breast cancer cells. Furthermore, PPP inhibited the capacity of CD24-CD44+ BCSCs to undergo epithelial-mesenchymal transition process with downregulation of mesenchymal markers. Inhibitors of signal molecules downstream of IGR-1R including PI3K/Akt/mTOR also reduced the ALDH + population of breast cancer cells. Furthermore, the mTOR inhibitor, rapamycin, suppressed BCSCs in vitro and in vivo.
CONCLUSIONS:Our data support the notion that IGF-1R is a marker of stemness, and IGF-1R and its downstream PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway are attractive targets for therapy directed against breast cancer stem/progenitors.
- Progesterone metabolites regulate induction, growth and suppression of estrogen- and progesterone receptor-negative human breast cell tumors. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Breast Cancer Res 2013 May 11; 15(3):R38.
INTRODUCTION:Of the nearly 1.4 million new cases of breast cancer diagnosed each year, a large proportion is characterized as hormone receptor negative, lacking estrogen receptors (ER) and/or progesterone receptors (PR). Patients with receptor-negative tumors do not respond to current steroid hormone based therapies and generally have significantly higher risk of recurrence and mortality compared to patients with tumors that are ER- and/or PR-positive. Previous in vitro studies had shown that the progesterone metabolites, 5-dihydroprogesterone (5P) and 3-dihydroprogesterone (3HP), respectively, exhibit pro-cancer and anti-cancer effects on receptor-negative human breast cell lines. Here in vivo studies were conducted to investigate the ability of 5P and 3HP to control initiation, growth and regression of ER/PR-negative human breast cell tumors.
METHODS:ER/PR-negative human breast cells (MDA-MB-231) were implanted into mammary fat pads of immunosuppressed mice and the effects of 5P and 3HP treatments on tumor initiation, growth, suppression/regression and histopathology were assessed in five separate experiments. Specific radioimmunoassays and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry were used to measure 5P, 3HP and progesterone in mouse serum and tumors.
RESULTS:Onset and growth of ER/PR-negative human breast cell tumors were significantly stimulated by 5P and inhibited by 3HP. When both hormones were applied simultaneously, the stimulatory effects of 5P were abrogated by the inhibitory effects of 3HP and vice versa. Treatment with 3HP subsequent to 5P-induced tumor initiation resulted in suppression of further tumorigenesis and regression of existing tumors. The levels of 5P in tumors, regardless of treatment, were about 10-fold higher than the levels of 3HP and the 5P:3HP ratios were about 5-fold higher than in serum, indicating significant changes in endogenous synthesis of these hormones in tumorous breast tissues.
CONCLUSIONS:The studies showed that estrogen/progesterone insensitive breast tumors are sensitive to, and controlled by, the progesterone metabolites 5P and 3HP. Tumorigenesis of ER/PR-negative breast cells is significantly enhanced by 5P and suppressed by 3HP, the outcome depending upon the relative concentrations of these two hormones in the microenvironment in the breast regions. The findings show that the production of 5P greatly exceeds that of 3HP in ER/PR-negative tumors and that treatment with 3HP can effectively block tumorigenesis and regress existing tumors. The results provide the first hormonal theory to explain tumorigenesis of ER/PR-negative breast tissues and support the hypothesis that a high 3HP-to-5P concentration ratio in the microenvironment may foster normalcy in non-cancerous breast regions. The findings suggest new diagnostics based on the relative levels of these hormones and new approaches to prevention and treatment of breast cancers based on regulating the levels and action mechanisms of anti- and pro-cancer progesterone metabolites.
- Molecular apocrine breast cancers are aggressive estrogen receptor negative tumors overexpressing either HER2 or GCDFP15. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Breast Cancer Res 2013 May 11; 15(3):R37.
INTRODUCTION:Molecular apocrine (MA) tumors are estrogen receptor (ER) negative breast cancers characterized by androgen receptor (AR) expression. We analysed a group of 58 transcriptionally defined MA tumors and proposed a new tool to identify these tumors.
METHODS:We performed quantitative reverse transcription PCR (qRT-PCR) for ER, AR, FOXA1 and AR-related genes, and immunohistochemistry (IHC) for ER, PR, HER2, CK5/6, CK17, EGFR, Ki67, AR, FOXA1 and GCDFP15 and we analysed clinical features.
RESULTS:MA tumors were all characterized by ER(-) AR(+) FOXA1(+) and AR-related genes positive mRNA profile. IHC staining on these tumors showed 93% ER(-), only 58% AR(+) and 90% FOXA1(+). 67% and 57% MA tumors were HER2(3+) and GCDFP15(+), respectively. Almost all MA tumors (94%) had the IHC signature "HER2(3+) or GCDFP15(+)" but none of 13 control basal-like (BL) tumors did. Clinically, MA tumors were rather aggressive, with poor prognostic factors.
CONCLUSION:MA tumors could be better defined by their qRT-PCR-AR profile than by AR IHC. In addition, we found that "HER2 or GCDFP15" protein overexpression is a sensitive and specific tool to differentiate MA from BL in the context of ER negative tumors. A composite molecular and IHC signature could therefore help to identify MA tumors in the daily practice.
- Pregnancy protection of breast cancer: new insights reveal unanswered questions. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Breast Cancer Res 2013 May 8; 15(3):103.
The recent paper by Meier-Abt and colleagues on pregnancy protection of breast cancer development takes a different approach to the problem and focused on the effect of parity on the cell subpopulations of the mouse mammary gland. Their results demonstrate that parity decreases the cell number of the hormone receptor-positive luminal cells (that is, luminal Sca1+) but not the basal stem/progenitor cells (CD24lo/CD49hi). Additionally, microarray studies demonstrate that wnt4 expression from the luminal Sca1+ cells is markedly reduced as is the wnt signaling pathway in basal cells. One important implication from these results is that targeting the wnt signaling pathway might be a feasible prevention approach in humans.
- Delivery of gene silencing agents for breast cancer therapy. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Breast Cancer Res 2013 May 8; 15(3):205.
The discovery of RNA interference has opened the door for the development of a new class of cancer therapeutics. Small inhibitory RNA oligos are being designed to specifically suppress expression of proteins that are traditionally considered nondruggable, and microRNAs are being evaluated to exert broad control of gene expression for inhibition of tumor growth. Since most naked molecules are not optimized for in vivo applications, the gene silencing agents need to be packaged into delivery vehicles in order to reach the target tissues as their destinations. Thus, the selection of the right delivery vehicles serves as a crucial step in the development of cancer therapeutics. The current review summarizes the status of gene silencing agents in breast cancer and recent development of candidate cancer drugs in clinical trials. Nanotechnology-based delivery vectors for the formulation and packaging of gene silencing agents are also described.
- The estrogen-regulated anterior gradient 2 (AGR2) protein in breast cancer: a potential drug target and biomarker. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Breast Cancer Res 2013 Apr 24; 15(2):204.
Initially discovered as an estrogen-responsive gene in breast cancer cell lines, anterior gradient 2 (AGR2) is a developmentally regulated gene belonging to the protein disulfide isomerase (PDI) gene family. Developmentally, AGR2 is expressed in the mammary gland in an estrogen-dependent manner, and AGR2 knockout and overexpression mouse models indicate that the gene promotes lobuloalveolar development by stimulating cell proliferation. Although AGR2 overexpression alone seems insufficient for breast tumorigenesis in mice, several lines of investigations suggest that AGR2 promotes breast tumorigenesis. Overexpression of AGR2 in several breast cancer cell lines increases cell survival in clonogenic assays and cell proliferation, whereas AGR2 loss of function leads to decreased cell cycle progression and cell death. In addition, AGR2 was shown to promote metastasis of breast epithelial cells in an in vivo metastasis assay. As a PDI, AGR2 is thought to be involved in the unfolded protein response that alleviates endoplasmic reticulum stress. Since cancer has to overcome proteotoxic stress due to excess protein production, AGR2 may be one of many pro-survival factors recruited to assist in protein folding or degradation or both. When AGR2 is secreted, it plays a role in cellular adhesion and dissemination of metastatic tumor cells. In breast cancer, AGR2 expression is associated with estrogen receptor (ER)-positive tumors; its overexpression is a predictor of poor prognosis. The AGR2 gene is directly targeted by ER-alpha, which is preferentially bound in tumors with poor outcome. Whereas aromatase inhibitor therapy decreases AGR2 expression, tamoxifen acts as an agonist of AGR2 expression in ER-positive tumors, perhaps contributing to tamoxifen resistance. AGR2 is also overexpressed in a subset of ER-negative tumors. Furthermore, AGR2 expression is associated with the dissemination of metastatic breast cancer cells and can be used as a marker to identify circulating tumor cells and metastatic cells in sentinel lymph nodes. In conclusion, AGR2 is a promising drug target in breast cancer and may serve as a useful prognostic indicator as well as a marker of breast cancer metastasis.