Columnar cell lesions and pseudoangiomatous hyperplasia like stroma: Is there an epithelial-stromal interaction?
The significance of association between cancer and its microenvironment has been increasingly recognized. It has been shown in animal models that interaction between neoplastic epithelial cells and adjacent stroma can modulate tumor behavior. Carcinoma associated stromal cells can transform normal epithelial cells into neoplastic cells. In breast, columnar cell lesions are non-obligate precursors of low grade ductal carcinoma in situ. Columnar cell lesions can be seen intimately associated with PASH-like-stroma, a lesion we termed as CCPLS. Our aim is to investigate epithelial-stromal interactions in CCPLS and compare them to PASH without columnar cell lesions in breast core needle biopsies. Normal terminal duct lobular unit (TDLU) epithelium was seen in association with columnar cell lesions as well as PASH. Eight (8) cases of each category were examined by a panel of immunostains: CD117 (C-kit), CD34, CD105, bFGF, AR, ER-beta, MIB-1. We observed a markedly decreased expression of c-kit in columnar cell lesions compared to TDLU-epithelium. CD105 showed a quantitative increase in activated vessels in CCPLS compared to PASH. A subset of CCPLS and PASH were androgen receptor positive. A strong nuclear positivity for ER-beta is observed in the epithelium and stroma of all CCPLS cases. We conclude that (1) activated blood vessels predominate in CCPLS; (2) A molecular alteration is signified by c-kit loss in columnar cell lesions; (3) ER-beta and androgen receptor positivity indicate CCPLS are hormonally responsive lesions. Our study suggests an intimate vascular and hormone dependent epithelial-stromal interaction exists in CCPLS lesions.