Claudin-Low Breast Cancer; Clinical & Pathological Characteristics
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Claudin-low breast cancer is a molecular type of breast cancer originally identified by gene expression profiling and reportedly associated with poor survival. Claudin-low tumors have been recognised to preferentially display a triple-negative phenotype, however only a minority of triple-negative breast cancers are claudin-low. We sought to identify an immunohistochemical profile for claudin-low tumors that could facilitate their identification in formalin fixed paraffin embedded tumor material. First, an in silico collection of ~1600 human breast cancer expression profiles was assembled and all claudin-low tumors identified. Second, genes differentially expressed between claudin-low tumors and all other molecular subtypes of breast cancer were identified. Third, a number of these top differentially expressed genes were tested using immunohistochemistry for expression in a diverse panel of breast cancer cell lines to determine their specificity for claudin-low tumors. Finally, the immunohistochemical panel found to be most characteristic of claudin-low tumors was examined in a cohort of 942 formalin fixed paraffin embedded human breast cancers with >10 years clinical follow-up to evaluate the clinico-pathologic and survival characteristics of this tumor subtype. Using this approach we determined that claudin-low breast cancer is typically negative for ER, PR, HER2, claudin 3, claudin 4, claudin 7 and E-cadherin. Claudin-low tumors identified with this immunohistochemical panel, were associated with young age of onset, higher tumor grade, larger tumor size, extensive lymphocytic infiltrate and a circumscribed tumor margin. Patients with claudin-low tumors had a worse overall survival when compared to patients with luminal A type breast cancer. Interestingly, claudin-low tumors were associated with a low local recurrence rate following breast conserving therapy. In conclusion, a limited panel of antibodies can facilitate the identification of claudin-low tumors. Furthermore, claudin-low tumors identified in this manner display similar clinical, pathologic and survival characteristics to claudin-low tumors identified from fresh frozen tumor material using gene expression profiling.
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