Limited utility of tissue micro-arrays in detecting intra-tumoral heterogeneity in stem cell characteristics and tumor progression markers in breast cancer
- Journal Article
Rights / licenseCreative Commons Attribution 4.0 International
Background Intra-tumoral heterogeneity has been recently addressed in different types of cancer, including breast cancer. A concept describing the origin of intra-tumoral heterogeneity is the cancer stem-cell hypothesis, proposing the existence of cancer stem cells that can self-renew limitlessly and therefore lead to tumor progression. Clonal evolution in accumulated single cell genomic alterations is a further possible explanation in carcinogenesis. In this study, we addressed the question whether intra-tumoral heterogeneity can be reliably detected in tissue-micro-arrays in breast cancer by comparing expression levels of conventional predictive/prognostic tumor markers, tumor progression markers and stem cell markers between central and peripheral tumor areas. Methods We analyzed immunohistochemical expression and/or gene amplification status of conventional prognostic tumor markers (ER, PR, HER2, CK5/6), tumor progression markers (PTEN, PIK3CA, p53, Ki-67) and stem cell markers (mTOR, SOX2, SOX9, SOX10, SLUG, CD44, CD24, TWIST) in 372 tissue-micro-array samples from 72 breast cancer patients. Expression levels were compared between central and peripheral tumor tissue areas and were correlated to histopathological grading. 15 selected cases additionally underwent RNA sequencing for transcriptome analysis. Results No significant difference in any of the analyzed between central and peripheral tumor areas was seen with any of the analyzed methods/or results that showed difference. Except mTOR, PIK3CA and SOX9 (nuclear) protein expression, all markers correlated significantly (p < 0.05) with histopathological grading both in central and peripheral areas. Conclusion Our results suggest that intra-tumoral heterogeneity of stem-cell and tumor-progression markers cannot be reliably addressed in tissue-micro-array samples in breast cancer. However, most markers correlated strongly with histopathological grading confirming prognostic information as expression profiles were independent on the site of the biopsy was taken. Show more
Journal / seriesJournal of Translational Medicine
Pages / Article No.
SubjectIntratumoral heterogeneity; Breast cancer; Stem cells; Tumor progression; Tissue micro array
Organisational unit02207 - Functional Genomics Center Zurich / Functional Genomics Center Zurich
NotesA Correction to this article has been published in the Journal of Translational Medicine Vol. 16, Article 180, on 8 May 2018.
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