[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Normal mammary gland homeostasis requires the coordinated regulation of protein signaling networks. However, we have little prospective information on whether activation of protein signaling occurs in premalignant mammary epithelial cells, as represented by cells with cytological atypia from women who are at high risk for breast cancer. This information is critical for understanding the role of deregulated signaling pathways in the initiation of breast cancer and for developing targeted prevention and/or treatment strategies for breast cancer in the future. In this pilot and feasibility study, we examined the expression of 52 phosphorylated, total, and cleaved proteins in 31 microdissected Random Periareolar Fine Needle Aspiration (RPFNA) samples by high-throughput Reverse Phase Protein Microarray. Unsupervised hierarchical clustering analysis indicated the presence of four clusters of proteins that represent the following signaling pathways: (1) receptor tyrosine kinase/Akt/mammalian target of rapamycin (RTK/Akt/mTOR), (2) RTK/Akt/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (RTK/Akt/ERK), (3) mitochondrial apoptosis, and (4) indeterminate. Clusters 1 through 3 comprised moderately to highly expressed proteins, while Cluster 4 comprised proteins that are lowly expressed in a majority of RPFNA samples. Our exploratory study showed that the interlinked components of mitochondrial apoptosis pathway are highly expressed in all mammary epithelial cells obtained from high-risk women. In particular, the expression levels of anti-apoptotic Bcl-xL and pro-apoptotic Bad are positively correlated in both non-atypical and atypical samples (unadjusted P < 0.0001), suggesting a delicate balance between the pro-apoptotic and anti-apoptotic regulation of cell proliferation during the early steps of mammary carcinogenesis. Our feasibility study suggests that the activation of key proteins along the RTK/Akt pathway may tip this balance to cell survival. Taken together, our results demonstrate the feasibility of mapping proteomic signaling networks in limited RPFNA samples obtained from high-risk women and the promise of developing rational drug targets or preventative strategies for breast cancer in future proteomic studies with a larger cohort of high-risk women.
Full-text · Article · Jun 2011 · Breast Cancer Research and Treatment
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Obesity is a well-established risk factor for cancer, accounting for up to 20% of cancer deaths in women. Studies of women with breast cancer have shown obesity to be associated with an increased risk of dying from breast cancer and increased risk of developing distant metastasis. While previous studies have focused on differences in circulating hormone levels as a cause for increased breast cancer incidence in postmenopausal women, few studies have focused on potential differences in the protein expression patterns of mammary epithelial cells obtained from obese versus nonobese women.
Protein expression was assessed by reverse-phase protein microarray in mammary epithelial cells from 31 random periareolar fine needle aspirations performed on 26 high-risk women.
In this pilot and exploratory study, vimentin (unadjusted P=0.028) expression was significantly different between obese and nonobese women.
Vimentin is integral both to adipocyte structure and function and to the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition needed for cancer cell metastasis. Further research is needed to confirm this finding and determine the possible effects of the adipocyte microenvironment on the initiation and progression of breast cancer in high-risk women.
Differential protein expression patterns obtained from a future expanded study may serve to elaborate the underlying pathology of breast cancer initiation and progression in obese women and identify potential biomarkers of response to preventative interventions such as dietary changes and exercise.
Full-text · Article · Mar 2011 · Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Random periareolar fine needle aspiration (RPFNA) is a research technique developed to assess short-term breast cancer risk in women at increased risk of breast cancer. Although there is increasing acceptance of RPFNA, neither the reproducibility nor the inter-institutional compatibility of RPFNA has been established. To address these key limitations, the Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB) Prevention Group tested the reproducibility of RPFNA in a multi-institutional cross-sectional study.
Sixty-three high-risk women from five CALGB institutions (Duke, Ohio State, Roswell Park, Dana Farber, and Vermont) underwent RPFNA from July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2008. Duplicate bilateral RPFNA was performed on each woman by a single investigator on a single day. Masood Cytology Index score was assessed by a single blinded cytopathologist.
There was a high degree of statistical agreement in the Masood Cytology Index scores of duplicate RPFNA samples from the same breast, with a Spearman correlation coefficient of 0.8312 (P < 0.0001). Importantly, although there was agreement in duplicate samples from the same breast, there was lack of agreement between duplicate samples from the opposite breast.
This multi-institutional study shows that RPFNA is a highly reproducible measure of breast cytology in a cooperative group cross-sectional trial. RPFNA did not show a high degree of agreement between breasts, suggesting that breast cancer risk and progression may occur at different rates in individual breasts from a single woman. These studies provide proof-of-principle for future RPFNA-based cooperative group prevention studies.
Full-text · Article · May 2009 · Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Only 5% of all breast cancers are the result of BRCA1/2 mutations. Methylation silencing of tumor suppressor genes is well described in sporadic breast cancer; however, its role in familial breast cancer is not known.
CpG island promoter methylation was tested in the initial random periareolar fine-needle aspiration sample from 109 asymptomatic women at high risk for breast cancer. Promoter methylation targets included RARB (M3 and M4), ESR1, INK4a/ARF, BRCA1, PRA, PRB, RASSF1A, HIN-1, and CRBP1.
Although the overall frequency of CpG island promoter methylation events increased with age (P<0.0001), no specific methylation event was associated with age. In contrast, CpG island methylation of RARB M4 (P=0.051), INK4a/ARF (P=0.042), HIN-1 (P=0.044), and PRA (P=0.032), as well as the overall frequency of methylation events (P=0.004), was associated with abnormal Masood cytology. The association between promoter methylation and familial breast cancer was tested in 40 unaffected premenopausal women in our cohort who underwent BRCA1/2 mutation testing. Women with BRCA1/2 mutations had a low frequency of CpG island promoter methylation (15 of 15 women had <or=4 methylation events), whereas women without a mutation showed a high frequency of promoter methylation events (24 of 25 women had 5-8 methylation events; P<0.0001). Of women with a BRCA1/2 mutation, none showed methylation of HIN-1 and only 1 of 15 women showed CpG island methylation of RARB M4, INK4a/ARF, or PRB promoters.
This is the first evidence of CpG island methylation of tumor suppressor gene promoters in non-BRCA1/2 familial breast cancer.
Full-text · Article · Mar 2009 · Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Currently, we lack biomarkers to predict whether high-risk women with mammary atypia will respond to tamoxifen chemoprevention.
Thirty-four women with cytologic mammary atypia from the Duke University High-Risk clinic were offered tamoxifen chemoprevention. We tested whether ESR1 promoter hypermethylation and/or estrogen receptor (ER) protein expression by immunohistochemistry predicted persistent atypia in 18 women who were treated with tamoxifen for 12 months and in 16 untreated controls.
We observed a statistically significant decrease in the Masood score of women on tamoxifen chemoprevention for 12 months compared with control women. This was a significant interaction effect of time (0, 6, and 12 months) and treatment group (tamoxifen versus control) P = 0.0007. However, neither ESR1 promoter hypermethylation nor low ER expression predicted persistent atypia in Random Periareolar Fine Needle Aspiration after 12 months tamoxifen prevention.
Results from this single institution pilot study provide evidence that, unlike for invasive breast cancer, ESR1 promoter hypermethylation and/or low ER expression is not a reliable marker of tamoxifen-resistant atypia.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: p16(INK4a) has been appreciated as a key regulator of cell cycle progression and senescence. Cultured human mammary epithelial cells that lack p16(INK4a) activity have been shown to exhibit premalignant phenotypes, such as telomeric dysfunction, centrosomal dysfunction, a sustained stress response, and, most recently, a dysregulation of chromatin remodeling and DNA methylation. These data suggest that cells that lack p16(INK4a) activity would be at high risk for breast cancer development and may exhibit an increased frequency of DNA methylation events in early cancer.
To test this hypothesis, the frequencies of INK4a/ARF promoter hypermethylation, as well as four additional selected loci, were tested in the initial random periareolar fine needle aspiration samples from 86 asymptomatic women at high risk for development of breast cancer, stratified using the Masood cytology index.
INK4a/ARF promoter hypermethylation was observed throughout all early stages of intraepithelial neoplasia and, importantly, in morphologically normal-appearing mammary epithelial cells; 29 of 86 subjects showed INK4a/ARF promoter hypermethylation in at least one breast. Importantly, INK4a/ARF promoter hypermethylation was not associated with atypia, and the frequency of hypermethylation did not increase with increasing Masood cytology score. The frequency of INK4a/ARF promoter hypermethylation was associated with the combined frequency of promoter hypermethylation of retinoic acid receptor-beta2, estrogen receptor-alpha, and breast cancer-associated 1 genes (P = 0.001).
Because INK4a/ARF promoter hypermethylation does not increase with age but increases with the frequency of other methylation events, we predict that INK4a/ARF promoter hypermethylation may serve as a marker of global methylation dysregulation.
Preview · Article · Dec 2007 · Clinical Cancer Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mutation of the breast cancer-associated gene 1 (BRCA1) plays an important role in familial breast cancer. Although hypermethylation of the BRCA1 promoter has been observed in sporadic breast cancer, its exact role in breast cancer initiation and association with breast cancer risk is unknown. The frequency of BRCA1 promoter hypermethylation was tested in (a) 14 primary breast cancer biopsies and (b) the initial random periareolar fine-needle aspiration (RPFNA) cytologic samples obtained from 61 asymptomatic women who were at increased risk for breast cancer. BRCA1 promoter hypermethylation was assessed from nucleotide -150 to nucleotide +32 relative to the transcription start site. RPFNA specimens were stratified for cytologic atypia using the Masood cytology index. BRCA1 promoter hypermethylation was observed at similar frequency in nonproliferative (normal; Masood <or=10: 18%, 2 of 11), hyperplastic (Masood 11-13: 15%, 6 of 41), and atypical cytology (Masood 14-17: 22%, 4 of 18; P = 0.79). BRCA1 promoter hypermethylation was not associated with (a) family history of breast or ovarian cancer or (b) calculated Gail or BRCAPRO risk score. BRCA1 promoter hypermethylation was associated with (a) age (P = 0.028) and (b) the combined frequency of promoter hypermethylation of the retinoic acid receptor-beta2 (RARB) gene, estrogen receptor-alpha (ESR1) gene, and p16 (INK4A) gene (P = 0.003). These observations show that BRCA1 promoter hypermethylation (a) is not associated with breast cancer risk as measured by mathematical risk models and (b) does not predict mammary atypia in RPFNA cytologic samples obtained from high-risk women.
No preview · Article · Jan 2007 · Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Methylation of the retinoic acid receptor-beta2 (RARbeta2) P2 promoter is hypothesized to be an important mechanism for loss of RARbeta2 function during early mammary carcinogenesis. The frequency of RARbeta2 P2 methylation was tested in (a) 16 early stage breast cancers and (b) 67 random periareolar fine needle aspiration (RPFNA) samples obtained from 38 asymptomatic women who were at increased risk for breast cancer. Risk was defined as either (a) 5-year Gail risk calculation > or = 1.7%; (b) prior biopsy exhibiting atypical hyperplasia, lobular carcinoma in situ, or ductal carcinoma in situ; or (c) known BRCA1/2 mutation carrier. RARbeta2 P2 promoter methylation was assessed at two regions, M3 (-51 to 162 bp) and M4 (104-251 bp). In early stage cancers, M4 methylation was observed in 11 of 16 (69%) cases; in RPFNA samples, methylation was present at M3 and M4 in 28 of 56 (50%) and 19 of 56 (38%) cases, respectively. RPFNAs were stratified for cytologic atypia using the Masood cytology index. The distribution of RARbeta2 P2 promoter methylation was reported as a function of increased cytologic abnormality. Methylation at both M3 and M4 was observed in (a) 0 of 10 (0%) of RPFNAs with Masood scores of < or = 10 (nonproliferative), (b) 3 of 20 (15%) with Masood scores of 11 to 12 (low-grade proliferative), (c) 3 of 10 (30%) with Masood scores of 13 (high-grade proliferative), and (d) 7 of 14 (50%) with Masood scores of 14 of 15 (atypia). Results from this study indicate that the RARbeta2 P2 promoter is frequently methylated (69%) in primary breast cancers and shows a positive association with increasing cytologic abnormality in RPFNA.