Expression of cancer-associated fibroblast related proteins in metastatic breast cancer: An immunohistochemical analysis

Hye Min Kim, Woo Hee Jung, JaSeung Koo

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21 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Cancer-associated fibroblast (CAF) is the most studied element of the tumor microenvironment, although no relationship has been identified between expression of their related proteins and the metastasis site. The purpose of this study was to investigate the expression of CAF related proteins and their implications according to the metastasis site in metastatic breast cancer. Methods: Immunohistochemical staining was used to evaluate the expression of CAF related proteins (podoplanin, prolyl 4-hydroxylase, FAPaα, S100A4, PDGFRaα, PDGFRβ, and NG2) in tissue microarrays from 132 cases of metastatic breast cancer (bone metastasis: 32 cases, brain metastasis: 38 cases, liver metastasis: 10 cases, and lung metastasis: 52 cases). Breast cancer subtypes were classified as luminal A, luminal B, HER-2, and triple negative breast cancer, according to the immunohistochemical staining results for estrogen and progesterone receptors, HER-2, and Ki-67 and FISH results for HER-2. Tumors were classified as desmoplastic, sclerotic, normal-like, and inflammatory type, according to the histologic findings from the tumor stroma. Results: Various CAF related protein expression profiles were observed, according to the metastasis site. For bone metastasis, the expression of stromal podoplanin, S100A4, and PDGFRaα was significantly high. For lung metastasis, the expression of stromal PDGFRβ was significantly elevated (p < 0.001). For liver metastasis, significantly reduced expression of stromal S100A4 (p = 0.002) and PDGFRaα (p = 0.011) was observed. Expression of CAF related proteins also differed according to the stromal phenotype. Desmoplastic stroma exhibited significantly elevated expression of stromal podoplanin (p < 0.001), S100A4 (p < 0.001), PDGFRaα (p = 0.010), and PDGFRβ (p = 0.021). Inflammatory stroma exhibited significantly elevated expression of stromal FAPaα (p = 0.044) and significantly reduced stromal S100A4 expression (p < 0.001). Sclerotic stroma exhibited significantly elevated tumoral FAPaα (p = 0.005) expression. For lung metastasis, shorter overall survival was significantly related to tumoral podoplanin expression (p = 0.006), stromal podoplanin expression (p = 0.018), tumoral prolyl 4-hydroxylase negativity (p = 0.016), and tumoral PDGFRaα expression (p = 0.001). Conclusion: For metastatic breast cancer, significant differences were observed in the expression of CAF related proteins, according to the metastasis site and stromal histologic phenotype.

Original languageEnglish
Article number222
JournalJournal of Translational Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jul 11


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

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