, Volume 97, Issue 3, pp 275-283
Date: 13 Dec 2005

The role of CXCR4 receptor expression in breast cancer: a large tissue microarray study

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The chemokine receptor CXCR4 is an important factor in the migration, invasiveness, metastasis and proliferation of breast cancer cells. We have retrospectively analyzed the levels of expression of CXCR4 in a large cohort of breast cancers and pre-invasive breast samples linked to clinical data. A total of 1808 invasive breast carcinomas and 214 pre-invasive breast samples could be analyzed in correlation with basic clinico-pathological data such as hormone receptor status, HER2 status and tumor grade. The majority of breast cancers expressed either nuclear or cytoplasmic staining or both. CXCR4 cytoplasmic expression was associated with parameters of tumor aggressivity (tumor grade and lymph node status) and had prognostic value (age-adjusted hazard ratio=1.73; Confidence Interval: 1.07–2.77) with respect to disease-specific survival. CXCR4 positivity in the cytoplasm but not the nucleus was associated with HER2 expression and amplification as well as with hormone receptor negativity (both ER and PR). The percentage of nuclear staining increased from normal breast tissue (20%) to ductal carcinoma-in-situ DCIS (43%) to invasive cancer (67%) while CXCR4 was expressed in the cytoplasm of 67% of (DCIS) cases (double that in normal breast samples), suggesting an important role in breast tumor progression. The CXCR4 receptor is expressed in many breast cancers, justifying its development as a therapeutic target in breast cancer patients. Its cytoplasmic expression is associated with breast tumor progression, suggesting potential value as a diagnostic marker.