International journal of clinical oncology

Extensive analysis of signaling pathway molecules in breast cancer: association with clinicopathological characteristics.

PMID 25312293


The aim of this study was to extensively analyze the signaling pathway molecules in breast cancer and to explore candidate biomarkers for clinicopathological relevance. We assessed the expression of key factors in cell signaling, namely p-AKT, cyclin D1, P27, p-p70S6 K, p-4EBP1, and p-MAPK/ERK, within 338 invasive breast cancer patients. These factors were immunohistochemically examined in tumor tissues and assessed by staining score. Staining scores were analyzed by a clustering method to devise a new classification based on pathway activity. We investigated the relationships among staining scores, the clustering classification, and patient characteristics. The proportion of patients displaying high expression levels were as follows: p-AKT, 75%; cyclin D1, 12%; P27, 53%; p-p70S6 K, 37%; p-4EBP1, 19%; and p-MAPK/ERK, 3%. Patients were classified into two groups on the basis of staining scores. Group 1 (39%) included more positive cases for p-4EBP1, p-MAPK/ERK, and p-p70S6 K and fewer positive cases for P27 and cyclin D1 than Group 2 (61%). The clustering classification was significantly related to subgrouping by hormone receptor and HER2 (P < 0.001), nuclear grade (P < 0.001) and histological subtype (P = 0.034). A strong positive correlation was identified between p-AKT and P27, cyclin D1 and P27, p-p70S6 K and p-4EBP1, p-p70S6 K and p-MAPK/ERK, and between p-4EBP1 and p-MAPK/ERK. Levels of p-p70S6 K were significantly related to recurrence in both univariate (RR = 0.75, P < 0.001) and multivariate (RR = 0.71, P = 0.049) analyses. The present study helps us to understand the characteristics of signaling pathway status in breast cancers. Moreover, p-p70S6 K expression may be of use in predicting clinical outcome.