Triple Negative Breast Carcinoma and the Basal Phenotype: From Expression Profiling to Clinical Practice

Piper Breast Center, Virginia Piper Cancer Institute, Abbott Northwestern Hospital, Minneapolis, MN 55407, USA.
Advances in Anatomic Pathology (Impact Factor: 3.23). 12/2007; 14(6):419-30. DOI: 10.1097/PAP.0b013e3181594733
Source: PubMed


Triple negative breast carcinomas (TNBCs) are a group of primary breast tumors with aggressive clinical behavior. Most TNBCs possess a basal phenotype (BP) and show varying degrees of basal cytokeratin and myoepithelial marker expression. The importance of recognizing these tumors came to light largely as the result of gene expression profiling studies that categorized breast cancer into 3 major groups. Two of these groups are defined by their respective expression of estrogen receptor and HER2. TNBCs represent a third group and are defined by negativity for hormone receptors and HER2. TNBCs currently lack effective targeted therapies and are frequently resistant to standard chemotherapeutic regimens. These tumors tend to occur in premenopausal women and members of specific ethnic groups and a subset are associated with heritable BRCA1 mutations. For patients with sporadic TNBCs and BP tumors, BRCA1 dysfunction seems to play a major role in the development and progression of disease. The pathologist's role in the diagnosis and characterization of TNBCs and BP tumors is currently being defined as we are acquiring knowledge of the biologic and genetic underpinnings that drive this heterogeneous group of diseases. This review will provide a historical prospective on TNBCs and tumors that express basal cytokeratins and myoepithelial makers. Additionally, we will discuss the molecular biologic, genetic and pathologic aspects of these tumors. Guidelines will be provided on how to best approach the diagnosis of these cases and on what input pathologists should provide clinicians to help develop optimal therapeutic and preventative strategies against this aggressive group of breast cancers.

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    • "Breast cancer, the most frequently diagnosed cancer and the leading cause of cancer deaths among women, is a heterogeneous disease that is classified and subtyped using clinical and pathologic features including patient age and tumor size, axillary node involvement, histologic grade, estrogen (ER) and progesterone (PR) hormone receptor status, and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) amplification. ER and/or PR receptors are expressed in a majority of breast cancers, and HER2 is amplified in approximately 20 % of cases [1]. Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is an aggressive phenotype comprising 10–20 % of all breast cancers [1]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) can be identified in approximately 25 % of stage I-III breast cancer patients; CTCs presence is a predictor of poor outcome in metastatic breast cancer, but little is known regarding the prognostic significance of CTCs in non-metastatic triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) patients. The aim of this study was to determine whether CTCs predict worse outcome in non-metastatic TNBC patients. We evaluated CTCs in 113 patients with stages I-III TNBC at the time of definitive surgery. CTCs were assessed using the CellSearch System(®). Progression-free and overall survival were defined as time elapsed between date of diagnosis and either date of clinical disease progression, death, or last follow-up. Log-rank test and Cox regression analysis were used to determine associations of CTCs with progression-free and overall survival. The median follow-up was 40 months. CTCs were identified in 23/113 (20 %) of patients. No primary tumor characteristic or lymph node status predicted the presence of CTCs. The identification of ≥2 CTCs predicted shorter progression-free (log rank P ≤ 0.001; hazard ratio 8.30, 95 % CI 2.61-26.37) and overall survival (log rank P = 0.0004; hazard ratio 7.19, 95 % CI 1.98-26.06) versus survival for patients with <2 CTCs. Two or more CTCs predict shorter progression-free and overall survival in TNBC patients. Larger studies are needed to determine whether CTC assessment provides beneficial information that could be used in stratifying TNBC patients at increased risk for disease progression. Finally, CTCs characterization could facilitate the development of novel treatment approaches for TNBC.
    Breast Cancer Research and Treatment 08/2014; 147(2). DOI:10.1007/s10549-014-3103-7 · 3.94 Impact Factor
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    • "In human breast cancers, basal-like subtype tumors account for about 50-80% of all TNBC [51], which is similar to our series of FMAs with 79% of triple negative tumors exhibiting a basal-like subtype. Of particular interest, TNBCs include a subset of neoplasms with a basal-like subtype that are often associated with BRCA1 mutations and are characterized by expression of genes usually found in basal or myoepithelial cells of the normal human breast [52]. Such cases can be identified by a series of specific surrogate basal markers, including CK5/6, CK17, CK14 and EGFR [51]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths. Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), an immunophenotype defined by the absence of immunolabeling for estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR) and HER2 protein, has a highly aggressive behavior. A subpopulation of TNBCs exhibit a basal-like morphology with immunohistochemical positivity for cytokeratins 5/6 (CK5/6) and/or epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), and have a high incidence of BRCA (breast cancer susceptibility) mutations. Feline mammary adenocarcinomas (FMAs) are highly malignant and share a similar basal-like subtype. The purpose of this study was to classify FMAs according to the current human classification of breast cancer that includes evaluation of ER, PR and HER-2 status and expression of basal CK 5/6 and EGFR. Furthermore, we selected triple negative, basal-like FMAs to screen for BRCA mutations similar to those described in human TNBC. Twenty four FMAs were classified according to the current human histologic breast cancer classification including immunohistochemistry (IHC) for ER, PR HER-2, CK5/6 and EGFR. Genetic alteration and loss of heterozygosity of BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes were analyzed in triple negative, basal-like FMAs. IHC for ER, PR and Her2 identified 14 of the 24 (58%) FMAs as a triple negative. Furthermore, 11of these 14 (79%) triple negative FMAs had a basal-like subtype. However, no genetic abnormalities were detected in BRCA1 and BRCA2 by direct sequencing and loss of heterozygosity analysis. FMAs are highly aggressive neoplasms that are commonly triple negative and exhibit a basal-like morphology. This is similar to human TNBC that are also commonly classified as a basal-like subtype. While sequencing of a select number of triple negative, basal-like FMAs and testing for loss of heterozygosity of BRCA1 and BRCA2 did not identify mutations similar to those described in human TNBC, further in-depth evaluation is required to elucidate a potential role of BRCA in the tumorigenesis of triple negative, basal-like FMAs. The strong similarities in clinical behavior, morphology and IHC phenotype suggest that triple negative, basal-like FMAs may be a suitable spontaneous animal model for studying novel therapeutic approaches against human basal-like TNBC.
    BMC Cancer 09/2013; 13(1):403. DOI:10.1186/1471-2407-13-403 · 3.36 Impact Factor
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    • "In addition, a BRCA1 knockdown rescued the effects of EZH2. Since most BRCA1-related breast carcinomas (heritable mutations or sporadic defects) are frequently triple negative cancers (reviewed in Diaz et al. [27]) with BRCA1 protein downregulation, EZH2 is most likely upregulated in these carcinomas. "
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    ABSTRACT: A major function of long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) is regulating gene expression through changes in chromatin state. Experimental evidence suggests that in cancer, they can influence Polycomb Repressive Complexes (PRC) to retarget to an occupancy pattern resembling that of the embryonic state. We have previously demonstrated that the expression level of lncRNA in the HOX locus, including HOTAIR, is a predictor of breast cancer metastasis. In this current project, RNA in situ hybridization of probes to three different lncRNAs (HOTAIR, ncHoxA1, and ncHoxD4), as well a immunohistochemical staining of EZH2, is undertaken in formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded breast cancer tissues in a high throughput tissue microarray format to correlate expression with clinicopathologic features. Though overall EZH2 and HOTAIR expression levels were highly correlated, the subset of cases with strong HOTAIR expression correlated with ER and PR positivity, while the subset of cases with strong EZH2 expression correlated with an increased proliferation rate, ER and PR negativity, HER2 underexpression, and triple negativity. Co-expression of HOTAIR and EZH2 trended with a worse outcome. In matched primary and metastatic cancers, both HOTAIR and EZH2 had increased expression in the metastatic carcinomas. This is the first study to show that RNA in situ hybridization of formalin fixed paraffin-embedded clinical material can be used to measure levels of long non-coding RNAs. This approach offers a method to make observations on lncRNAs that may influence the cancer epigenome in a tissue-based technique.
    PLoS ONE 10/2012; 7(10):e47998. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0047998 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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