Histochemistry and cell biology

Disentangling the aneuploidy and senescence paradoxes: a study of triploid breast cancers non-responsive to neoadjuvant therapy.

PMID 26860864


Aneuploid cells should have a reduced proliferation rate due to difficulty in proceeding through mitosis. However, contrary to this, high aneuploidy is associated with aggressive tumour growth and poor survival prognosis, in particular in triploid breast cancer. A further paradox revolves around the observation that, while cell senescence should inhibit proliferation, the senescence marker p16INK4a correlates with poor treatment outcome in patients with a very aggressive triple-negative breast carcinoma (TNBC). In this study, we aim to pour light on the possible relationship of these conundrums with polyploidy of tumour cells. We performed detailed analysis of DNA histogram profiles in diagnostic core biopsies of 30 cases of operable breast cancer and found that near triploidy in TNBC and other forms correlated with weak or no response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) as scored by Miller-Payne index. Polyploid cells in operation samples from tumours that were non-responsive to NAC treatment were Ki67 and CD44 positive. In addition, polyploid cells were positive for markers of embryonic stemness (OCT4, SOX2, NANOG) and senescence (p16INK4a). The relationship patterns between p16INK4a and NANOG were heterogeneous, with predominantly mutually exclusive expression but also synergistic and intermediate variants in the same samples. We conclude that the aneuploidy and senescence paradoxes can be explained by the mutual platform of polyploidy, conferring genomic and epigenetic instability as a survival advantage. Such cells are able to bypass aneuploidy restrictions of conventional mitosis and overcome the barrier of senescence by a shift to self-renewal, resulting in progression of cancer.