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1.  Triple-Negative Breast Cancer: Clinical and Histological Correlations 
Breast Care  2011;6(4):273-278.
Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is characterized by the lack of estrogen and progesterone receptors and the lack of HER2 expression or amplification. Much interest has recently been focused on these triple-negative (TN) subtypes because they may be aggressive and are more likely to recur and metastasize than other subtypes of breast cancer. TNBC accounts for approximately 10-24% of all breast cancer cases, and typically it occurs in younger patients and in patients with BRCA1 mutation. There is a substantial heterogeneity of TNBCs both at the morphological and the molecular level, but there are also common features, such as low tumor grade and accelerated tumor proliferation. Morphologically, TNBC may present as invasive ductal, metaplastic, medullary, apocrine, or other types. Molecularly, they are most frequently associated with a basal phenotype, but there is a distinct subgroup of cancers that are not of basal type and belong to the claudin-low or molecular-apocrine type. The basal phenotype is frequently associated with the loss of BRCA1.
PMCID: PMC3225211  PMID: 22135625
Breast cancer; molecular subtypes
2.  Current Status of Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerase Inhibitors as Novel Therapeutic Agents for Triple-Negative Breast Cancer 
Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is an aggressive type of breast cancer that is clinically defined as lacking estrogen and progesterone receptors, as well as being ERBB2 (HER-2) negative. Without specific therapeutic targets, TNBC carries a worse prognosis than other types of breast cancer in the absence of therapy. Research has now further differentiated breast cancer into subtypes based on genetic expression patterns. One of these subtypes, basal-like, frequently overlaps with the clinical picture of TNBC. Additionally, both TNBC and basal-like breast cancer link to BRCA mutations. Recent pharmaceutical advances have created a class of drugs, poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibitors, which are showing potential to effectively treat these patients. The aim of this paper is to summarize the basis behind PARP inhibitors and update the current status of their development in clinical trials for the treatment of TNBC.
PMCID: PMC3262603  PMID: 22295252
3.  Cross-species genomic and functional analyses identify a combination therapy using a CHK1 inhibitor and a ribonucleotide reductase inhibitor to treat triple-negative breast cancer 
Breast Cancer Research : BCR  2012;14(4):R109.
Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is an aggressive subtype of breast cancer that is diagnosed in approximately 15% of all human breast cancer (BrCa) patients. Currently, no targeted therapies exist for this subtype of BrCa and prognosis remains poor. Our laboratory has previously identified a proliferation/DNA repair/cell cycle gene signature (Tag signature) that is characteristic of human TNBC. We hypothesize that targeting the dysregulated biological networks in the Tag gene signature will lead to the identification of improved combination therapies for TNBC.
Cross-species genomic analysis was used to identify human breast cancer cell lines that express the Tag signature. Knock-down of the up-regulated genes in the Tag signature by siRNA identified several genes that are critical for TNBC cell growth. Small molecule inhibitors to two of these genes were analyzed, alone and in combination, for their effects on cell proliferation, cell cycle, and apoptosis in vitro and tumor growth in vivo. Synergy between the two drugs was analyzed by the Chou-Talalay method.
A custom siRNA screen was used to identify targets within the Tag signature that are critical for growth of TNBC cells. Ribonucleotide reductase 1 and 2 (RRM1 and 2) and checkpoint kinase 1 (CHK1) were found to be critical targets for TNBC cell survival. Combination therapy, to simultaneously attenuate cell cycle checkpoint control through inhibition of CHK1 while inducing DNA damage with gemcitabine, improved therapeutic efficacy in vitro and in xenograft models of TNBC.
This combination therapy may have translational value for patients with TNBC and improve therapeutic response for this aggressive form of breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC3680937  PMID: 22812567
4.  Genetic Susceptibility to Triple Negative Breast Cancer 
Cancer research  2013;73(7):2025-2030.
Triple negative breast cancers (TNBC), defined by the absence of estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, and human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 expression, account for 12-24% of all breast cancers. TNBC is associated with early recurrence of disease and poor outcome. Germline mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 breast cancer susceptibility genes have been associated with up to 15% of TNBC, and TNBC accounts for 70% of breast tumors arising in BRCA1 mutation carriers and 16-23% of breast tumors in BRCA2 carriers. Whether germline mutations in other breast cancer susceptibility genes also predispose to TNBC remains to be determined. Common variation in a subset of the 72 known breast cancer susceptibility loci identified through genome wide association studies and other large-scale genotyping efforts have also been associated with risk of TNBC (TOX3, ESR1, RAD51L1, TERT, 19p13.1, 20q11, MDM4, 2p24.1, and FTO). Furthermore, variation in the 19p13.1 locus and the MDM4 locus has been associated with TNBC but not other forms of breast cancer suggesting that these are TNBC-specific loci. Thus, TNBC can be distinguished from other breast cancer subtypes by a unique pattern of common and rare germline predisposition alleles. Additional efforts to combine genetic and epidemiological data are needed to better understand the etiology of this aggressive form of breast cancer, to identify prevention and therapeutic targets, and to impact clinical practice through development of risk prediction models.
PMCID: PMC3654815  PMID: 23536562
5.  Exploring Molecular Pathways of Triple-Negative Breast Cancer 
Genes & Cancer  2011;2(9):870-879.
Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is an aggressive breast cancer subtype with a high rate of proliferation and metastasis, as well as poor prognosis for advanced-stage disease. Although TNBC was previously classified together with basal-like and BRCA1/2-related breast cancers, genomic profiling now shows that there is incomplete overlap, with important distinctions associated with each subtype. The biology of TNBC is still poorly understood; therefore, to define the relative contributions of major cellular pathways in TNBC, we have studied its molecular signature based on analysis of gene expression. Comparisons were then made with normal breast tissue. Our results suggest the existence of molecular networks in TNBC, characterized by explicit alterations in the cell cycle, DNA repair, nucleotide synthesis, metabolic pathways, NF-κB signaling, inflammatory response, and angiogenesis. Moreover, we also characterized TNBC as a cancer of mixed phenotypes, suggesting that TNBC extends beyond the basal-like molecular signature and may constitute an independent subtype of breast cancer. The data provide a new insight into the biology of TNBC.
PMCID: PMC3352156  PMID: 22593799
triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC); molecular pathways; DNA repair; cell cycle; NF-κB; tumor metabolism
6.  Prognostic role of BRCA1 mutation in patients with triple-negative breast cancer 
Oncology Letters  2013;7(1):278-284.
Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is proposed to be an immunohistochemical surrogate of the basal-like breast cancer subtype. In spite of the relative chemosensitivity of this cancer subtype, it is characterized by aggressive clinical behavior; therefore, a further subclassification of TNBC is required to develop new targeted treatment. In previous studies, a strong correlation between BRCA1 mutation-associated tumors and TNBC has been identified. The aim of the present study was to investigate the prognostic significance of carrying two germline BRCA1 founder mutations (4153delA and 5382insC) in patients with TNBC in the Latvian population. A total of 78 consecutive BRCA1 mutation-negative and 38 BRCA1 mutation-positive invasive TNBC patients in stage I–IV with no history of ovarian or other primary advanced cancers, who had undergone definitive surgery and genetic testing between 2005 and 2011, were deemed eligible for study. Relapse rates and breast cancer-specific survival (BCS) outcomes were compared between mutation carriers and non-carriers. Univariate and multivariate analyses Cox proportional-hazards models were used to compute independent predictors of survival outcomes. No statistically significant differences were identified in relation to tumor size, T stage, stage, Ki-67 status and tumor differentiation grade between the two groups. The median follow-up period was 36 months for mutation carriers and 41 months for non-carriers. A higher proportion of BRCA1 mutation non-carriers experienced distant recurrence compared with that of mutation carriers (P<0.03). BRCA1 mutation carriers had a significantly higher BCS than non-carriers (94.9 vs. 76.9%; P<0.02). In the univariate analyses, BRCA1-positive status was associated with decreased risk of distant recurrence (HR, 0.228; 95% Cl, 0.052–0.997; P<0.049) and breast cancer-specific mortality (HR, 0.209; 95% Cl, 0.048–0.902; P<0.036). In the multivariate analysis Cox proportional-hazards model, BRCA1-positive status was an independent favorable prognostic factor for distant recurrence-free survival (HR, 3.301; 95% Cl, 1.102–9.893; P<0.033). In conclusion, results of the present study demonstrate that positive BRCA1 founder mutation status in TNBC, with no evidence of ovarian or other cancer type in advanced stage, significantly improves prognosis.
PMCID: PMC3861604  PMID: 24348864
triple-negative breast cancer; breast cancer; BRCA1 mutation
7.  Triple-Negative Breast Cancer: Adjuvant Therapeutic Options 
Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), a subtype distinguished by negative immunohistochemical assays for expression of the estrogen and progesterone receptors (ER/PR) and human epidermal growth factor receptor-2(HER2) represents 15% of all breast cancers. Patients with TNBC generally experience a more aggressive clinical course with increased risk of disease progression and poorer overall survival. Furthermore, this subtype accounts for a disproportionate number of disease-related mortality in part due to its aggressive natural history and our lack of effective targeted agents beyond conventional cytotoxic chemotherapy. In this paper, we will review the epidemiology, risk factors, prognosis, and the molecular and clinicopathologic features that distinguish TNBC from other subtypes of breast cancer. In addition, we will examine the available data for the use of cytotoxic chemotherapy in the treatment of TNBC in both the neoadjuvant and adjuvant setting and explore the ongoing development of newer targeted agents.
PMCID: PMC3265248  PMID: 22312556
8.  Triple negative breast cancer: unmet medical needs 
Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is an aggressive clinical phenotype characterized by lack of expression (or minimal expression) of estrogen receptor (ER) and progesterone receptor (PR) as well as an absence of human epidermal growth factor receptor–2 (HER2) overexpression. It shows substantial overlap with basal-type and BRCA1-related breast cancers, both of which also have aggressive clinical courses. However, this overlap is not complete, and the expression of ER, PR, and HER2 has been noted in basal-like tumors. TNBC also includes the normal-like subtype, and not all patients with TNBC harbor BRCA1 mutations. Because of its expression profile, TNBC is not amenable to treatment with hormone therapy or the anti-HER2 monoclonal antibody trastuzumab, and systemic treatment options are currently limited to cytotoxic chemotherapy. Overall survival, whether in early-stage or advanced disease, is poor compared with that in patients who have other phenotypes. A number of targeted approaches to TNBC are undergoing clinical evaluation, including the use of agents with poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase inhibitory properties such as iniparib (the United States Adopted Name for the investigational agent BSI-201), olaparib (AZD2281), and veliparib (ABT-888), antiangiogenic agents such as bevacizumab and sunitinib, and epidermal growth factor receptor blockers such as cetuximab and erlotinib. Encouraging results with some of these agents have been reported, thereby offering the promise for improved outcomes in patients with TNBC. The clinical characteristics of TNBC and clinical experience to date with novel targeted agents under development for this aggressive phenotype is reviewed.
PMCID: PMC3244802  PMID: 21161370
Breast cancer; triple negative; phenotype; basal-like; BRCA1; targeted therapy
9.  Population and target considerations for triple-negative breast cancer clinical trials 
Biomarkers in medicine  2013;7(1):11-21.
Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is an aggressive disease subtype that has a poor prognosis. Extensive epidemiological evidence demonstrates clear socioeconomic and demographic associations with increased likelihood of TNBC in both poorer and minority populations. Thus, biological aggressiveness with few known therapeutic directions generates disparities in breast cancer outcomes for vulnerable populations. Emerging molecular evidence of potential targets in triple-negative subpopulations offers great potential for future clinical trial directions. However, trials must appropriately consider populations at risk for aggressive subtypes of disease in order to address this disparity most completely. New US FDA draft guidance documents provide both flexible outcomes for accelerated approvals as well as flexibility in design with adaptive trials. Careful planning with design, potential patient population and choices of molecular targets informed by biomarkers will be critical to address TNBC clinical care.
PMCID: PMC3677035  PMID: 23387481
clinical trials; disparities; triple-negative breast cancer
10.  Cellular responses of BRCA1-defective and triple-negative breast cancer cells and in vitro BRCA1 interactions induced by metallo-intercalator ruthenium(II) complexes containing chloro-substituted phenylazopyridine 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:73.
Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is defined by the absence of expression of estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2. Breast cancers with a BRCA1 mutation are also frequently triple-negative. Currently, there is a lack of effective therapies and known specific molecular targets for this aggressive breast cancer subtype. To address this concern, we have explored the cellular responses of BRCA1-defective and triple-negative breast cancer cells, and in vitro BRCA1 interactions induced by the ruthenium(II) complexes containing the bidentate ligand, 5-chloro-2-(phenylazo)pyridine.
Triple-negative MDA-MB-231, BRCA1-defective HCC1937 and BRCA1-competent MCF-7 breast cancer cell lines were treated with ruthenium(II) complexes. The cytoxoxicity of ruthenium-induced breast cancer cells was evaluated by a real time cellular analyzer (RTCA). Cellular uptake of ruthenium complexes was determined by ICP-MS. Cell cycle progression and apoptosis were assessed using propidium iodide and Annexin V flow cytometry. The N-terminal BRCA1 RING protein was used for conformational and functional studies using circular dichroism and in vitro ubiquitination.
HCC1937 cells were significantly more sensitive to the ruthenium complexes than the MDA-MB-231 and MCF-7 cells. Treatment demonstrated a higher degree of cytotoxicity than cisplatin against all three cell lines. Most ruthenium atoms were retained in the nuclear compartment, particularly in HCC1937 cells, after 24 h of incubation, and produced a significant block at the G2/M phase. An increased induction of apoptotic cells as well as an upregulation of p53 mRNA was observed in all tested breast cancer cells. It was of interest that BRCA1 mRNA and replication of BRCA1-defective cells were downregulated. Changes in the conformation and binding constants of ruthenium-BRCA1 adducts were observed, causing inactivation of the RING heterodimer BRCA1/BARD1-mediated E3 ubiquitin ligase activity.
This study has revealed the ability of ruthenium complexes to inhibit cell proliferation, induce cell cycle progression and apoptosis. Ruthenium treatment upregulated the marker genes involved in apoptosis and cell cycle progression while it downregulated BRCA1 mRNA and replication of HCC1937 cells. Our results could provide an alternative approach to finding effective therapeutic ruthenium-based agents with promising anticancer activity, and demonstrated that the BRCA1 RING domain protein was a promising therapeutic target for breast cancers.
PMCID: PMC3933379  PMID: 24507701
Ruthenium; BRCA1; Triple-negative; Cell cycle; Apoptosis; BRCA1; Ubiquitination
11.  Biology, Metastatic Patterns, and Treatment of Patients with Triple-Negative Breast Cancer 
Clinical breast cancer  2009;9(Suppl 2):S73-S81.
Of the estimated 1 million cases of breast cancer diagnosed annually worldwide, it is estimated that over 170,000 will harbor the triple-negative (estrogen receptor/progesterone receptor/HER2–negative) phenotype. Most, though not all, triple-negative breast cancers will be basal-like on gene expression micorarrays. The basal-like molecular subtype exhibits a unique molecular profile and set of risk factors, aggressive and early pattern of metastasis, limited treatment options, and poor prognosis. Large population-based studies have identified a higher proportion of triple-negative breast tumors among premenopausal African American women, and a suggestion that increased parity, younger age at first-term pregnancy, shorter duration of breast feeding, and elevated hip-to-waist ratio might be particular risk factors. When BRCA1 mutation carriers develop breast cancer, it is usually basal-like; given the central role of BRCA1 in DNA repair, this could have profound therapeutic implications. When diagnosed, triple-negative breast cancers illustrate preferential relapse in visceral organs, including the central nervous system. Although initial response to chemotherapy might be more profound, relapse is early and common among triple-negative breast cancers compared with luminal breast cancers. The armamentarium of “targeted therapeutics” for triple-negative breast cancer is evolving and includes strategies to inhibit angiogenesis, epidermal growth factor receptor, and other kinases. Finally, the positive association between triple-negative breast cancer and BRCA mutations makes inhibition of poly(adenosine diphosphate-ribose) polymerase–1 an attractive therapeutic strategy that is in active study.
PMCID: PMC2919761  PMID: 19596646
Basal-like breast cancer; BRCA1; BSI-201; Cetuximab; Cytokeratin 5/6; PARP1
12.  Immunotherapeutic approaches in triple-negative breast cancer: latest research and clinical prospects 
Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), as defined by the absence of estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 expression, is a challenging disease with the poorest prognosis of all breast cancer subtypes. Importantly, there are currently no known molecular targets for this subgroup of patients. Recent advances in genomics and gene expression profiling have shed new light on the molecule heterogeneity of TNBC. We present an overview of the scientific evidence suggesting that clinical outcome in TNBC is affected by tumor-infiltrating immune cells. We also describe tumor-associated antigens recently identified in TNBC. Finally, we review the current literature on promising immunotherapies for TNBC, including tumor vaccine approaches, immune-checkpoint inhibitors, antagonists of immunosuppressive molecules and adoptive cell therapies. It is our contention that selected patients with TNBC with lymphocytic tumor infiltrates at diagnosis may benefit from immune-based therapies and that these immunotherapies will be most beneficial in combination with cytotoxic drugs that potentiate adaptive anti-tumor immunity.
PMCID: PMC3630481  PMID: 23634195
basal like; breast cancer; immunotherapy; T cell
13.  Luteolin is a novel p90 ribosomal S6 kinase (RSK) inhibitor that suppresses Notch4 signaling by blocking the activation of Y-box binding protein-1 (YB-1) 
Oncotarget  2013;4(2):329-345.
Triple-negative breast cancers (TNBC) are notoriously difficult to treat because they lack hormone receptors and have limited targeted therapies. Recently, we demonstrated that p90 ribosomal S6 kinase (RSK) is essential for TNBC growth and survival indicating it as a target for therapeutic development. RSK phosphorylates Y-box binding protein-1 (YB-1), an oncogenic transcription/translation factor, highly expressed in TNBC (~70% of cases) and associated with poor prognosis, drug resistance and tumor initiation. YB-1 regulates the tumor-initiating cell markers, CD44 and CD49f however its role in Notch signaling has not been explored. We sought to identify novel chemical entities with RSK inhibitory activity. The Prestwick Chemical Library of 1120 off-patent drugs was screened for RSK inhibitors using both in vitro kinase assays and molecular docking. The lead candidate, luteolin, inhibited RSK1 and RSK2 kinase activity and suppressed growth in TNBC, including TIC-enriched populations. Combining luteolin with paclitaxel increased cell death and unlike chemotherapy alone, did not enrich for CD44+ cells. Luteolin’s efficacy against drug-resistant cells was further indicated in the primary x43 cell line, where it suppressed monolayer growth and mammosphere formation. We next endeavored to understand how the inhibition of RSK/YB-1 signaling by luteolin elicited an effect on TIC-enriched populations. ChIP-on-ChIP experiments in SUM149 cells revealed a 12-fold enrichment of YB-1 binding to the Notch4 promoter. We chose to pursue this because there are several reports indicating that Notch4 maintains cells in an undifferentiated, TIC state. Herein we report that silencing YB-1 with siRNA decreased Notch4 mRNA. Conversely, transient expression of Flag:YB-1WT or the constitutively active mutant Flag:YB-1D102 increased Notch4 mRNA. The levels of Notch4 transcript and the abundance of the Notch4 intracellular domain (N4ICD) correlated with activation of P-RSKS221/7 and P-YB-1S102 in a panel of TNBC cell lines. Silencing YB-1 or RSK reduced Notch4 mRNA and this corresponded with loss of N4ICD. Likewise, the RSK inhibitors, luteolin and BI-D1870, suppressed P-YB-1 S102 and thereby reduced Notch4. In conclusion, inhibiting the RSK/YB-1 pathway with luteolin is a novel approach to blocking Notch4 signaling and as such provides a means of inhibiting TICs.
PMCID: PMC3712578  PMID: 23593654
Triple-negative breast cancer; p90 ribosomal S6 kinase; Y-box binding protein-1; tumor-initiating cells; drug repositioning
14.  Incorporating tumour pathology information into breast cancer risk prediction algorithms 
Mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 confer high risks of breast cancer and ovarian cancer. The risk prediction algorithm BOADICEA (Breast and Ovarian Analysis of Disease Incidence and Carrier Estimation Algorithm) may be used to compute the probabilities of carrying mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 and help to target mutation screening. Tumours from BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers display distinctive pathological features that could be used to better discriminate between BRCA1 mutation carriers, BRCA2 mutation carriers and noncarriers. In particular, oestrogen receptor (ER)-negative status, triple-negative (TN) status, and expression of basal markers are predictive of BRCA1 mutation carrier status.
We extended BOADICEA by treating breast cancer subtypes as distinct disease end points. Age-specific expression of phenotypic markers in a series of tumours from 182 BRCA1 mutation carriers, 62 BRCA2 mutation carriers and 109 controls from the Breast Cancer Linkage Consortium, and over 300,000 tumours from the general population obtained from the Surveillance Epidemiology, and End Results database, were used to calculate age-specific and genotype-specific incidences of each disease end point. The probability that an individual carries a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation given their family history and tumour marker status of family members was computed in sample pedigrees.
The cumulative risk of ER-negative breast cancer by age 70 for BRCA1 mutation carriers was estimated to be 55% and the risk of ER-positive disease was 18%. The corresponding risks for BRCA2 mutation carriers were 21% and 44% for ER-negative and ER-positive disease, respectively. The predicted BRCA1 carrier probabilities among ER-positive breast cancer cases were less than 1% at all ages. For women diagnosed with breast cancer below age 50 years, these probabilities rose to more than 5% in ER-negative breast cancer, 7% in TN disease and 24% in TN breast cancer expressing both CK5/6 and CK14 cytokeratins. Large differences in mutation probabilities were observed by combining ER status and other informative markers with family history.
This approach combines both full pedigree and tumour subtype data to predict BRCA1/2 carrier probabilities. Prediction of BRCA1/2 carrier status, and hence selection of women for mutation screening, may be substantially improved by combining tumour pathology with family history of cancer.
PMCID: PMC2917017  PMID: 20482762
15.  MicroRNAs and Triple Negative Breast Cancer 
Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) is a very aggressive tumor subtype, which still lacks specific markers for an effective targeted therapy. Despite the common feature of negativity for the three most relevant receptors (ER, PgR and HER2), TNBC is a very heterogeneous disease where different subgroups can be recognized, and both gene and microRNA profiling studies have recently been carried out to dissect the different molecular entities. Moreover, several microRNAs playing a crucial role in triple negative breast cancer biology have been identified, providing the experimental basis for a possible therapeutic application. Indeed, the causal involvement of microRNAs in breast cancer and the possible use of these small noncoding RNA molecules as biomarkers has been extensively studied with promising results. Their application as therapeutic tools might represent an innovative approach, especially for a tumor subgroup still lacking an efficient and specific therapy such as TNBC. In this review, we summarize our knowledge on the most important microRNAs described in TNBC.
PMCID: PMC3856060  PMID: 24284394
microRNA; breast cancer; triple negative
16.  Feline mammary basal-like adenocarcinomas: a potential model for human triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) with basal-like subtype 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:403.
Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths. Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), an immunophenotype defined by the absence of immunolabeling for estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR) and HER2 protein, has a highly aggressive behavior. A subpopulation of TNBCs exhibit a basal-like morphology with immunohistochemical positivity for cytokeratins 5/6 (CK5/6) and/or epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), and have a high incidence of BRCA (breast cancer susceptibility) mutations. Feline mammary adenocarcinomas (FMAs) are highly malignant and share a similar basal-like subtype. The purpose of this study was to classify FMAs according to the current human classification of breast cancer that includes evaluation of ER, PR and HER2 status and expression of basal CK 5/6 and EGFR. Furthermore, we selected triple negative, basal-like FMAs to screen for BRCA mutations similar to those described in human TNBC.
Twenty four FMAs were classified according to the current human histologic breast cancer classification including immunohistochemistry (IHC) for ER, PR HER2, CK5/6 and EGFR. Genetic alteration and loss of heterozygosity of BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes were analyzed in triple negative, basal-like FMAs.
IHC for ER, PR and HER2 identified 14 of the 24 (58%) FMAs as a triple negative. Furthermore, 11of these 14 (79%) triple negative FMAs had a basal-like subtype. However, no genetic abnormalities were detected in BRCA1 and BRCA2 by direct sequencing and loss of heterozygosity analysis.
FMAs are highly aggressive neoplasms that are commonly triple negative and exhibit a basal-like morphology. This is similar to human TNBC that are also commonly classified as a basal-like subtype. While sequencing of a select number of triple negative, basal-like FMAs and testing for loss of heterozygosity of BRCA1 and BRCA2 did not identify mutations similar to those described in human TNBC, further in-depth evaluation is required to elucidate a potential role of BRCA in the tumorigenesis of triple negative, basal-like FMAs. The strong similarities in clinical behavior, morphology and IHC phenotype suggest that triple negative, basal-like FMAs may be a suitable spontaneous animal model for studying novel therapeutic approaches against human basal-like TNBC.
PMCID: PMC3849986  PMID: 24004841
Basal phenotype; BRCA; Feline; Mammary adenocarcinoma; Triple negative
17.  ERα-Negative and Triple Negative Breast Cancer: Molecular Features and Potential Therapeutic Approaches 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2009;1796(2):162-175.
Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is a type of aggressive breast cancer lacking the expression of estrogen receptors (ER), progesterone receptors (PR) and human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 (HER-2). TNBC patients account for approximately 15% of total breast cancer patients and are more prevalent among young African, African-American and Latino women patients. The currently available ER-targeted and Her-2-based therapies are not effective for treating TNBC. Recent studies have revealed a number of novel features of TNBC. In the present work, we comprehensively addressed these features and discussed potential therapeutic approaches based on these features for TNBC, with particular focus on: 1) the pathological features of TNBC/basal-like breast cancer; 2) E2/ERβ – mediated signaling pathways; 3) G-protein coupling receptor-30/epithelial growth factor receptor (GPCR-30/EGFR) signaling pathway; 4) interactions of ERβ with breast cancer 1/2 (BRCA1/2); 5) chemokine CXCL8 and related chemokines; 6) altered microRNA signatures and suppression of ERα expression/ERα-signaling by micro-RNAs; 7) altered expression of several pro-oncongenic and tumor suppressor proteins; and 8) genotoxic effects caused by oxidative estrogen metabolites. Gaining better insights into these molecular pathways in TNBC may lead to identification of novel biomarkers and targets for development of diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for prevention and treatment of TNBC.
PMCID: PMC2937358  PMID: 19527773
Breast cancer; CXC chemokine; CXCL8; ERα; ERβ; estrogen carcinogenesis; GRCP-30/EGFR; mircoRNAs; therapeutic approaches for TN-breast cancer; triple negative breast cancer
18.  Mutation Analysis of BRCA1, BRCA2, PALB2 and BRD7 in a Hospital-Based Series of German Patients with Triple-Negative Breast Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47993.
Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is an aggressive form of breast carcinoma with a poor prognosis. Recent evidence suggests that some patients with TNBC harbour germ-line mutations in DNA repair genes which may render their tumours susceptible to novel therapies such as treatment with PARP inhibitors. In the present study, we have investigated a hospital-based series of 40 German patients with TNBC for the presence of germ-line mutations in BRCA1, BRCA2, PALB2, and BRD7 genes. Microfluidic array PCR and next-generation sequencing was used for BRCA1 and BRCA2 analysis while conventional high-resolution melting and Sanger sequencing was applied to study the coding regions of PALB2 and BRD7, respectively. Truncating mutations in BRCA1 were found in six patients, and truncating mutations in BRCA2 and PALB2 were detected in one patient each, whereas no truncating mutation was identified in BRD7. One patient was a double heterozygote for the PALB2 mutation, c.758insT, and a BRCA1 mutation, c.927delA. Our results confirm in a hospital-based setting that a substantial proportion of German TNBC patients (17.5%) harbour germ-line mutations in genes involved in homology-directed DNA repair, with a preponderance of BRCA1 mutations. Triple-negative breast cancer should be considered as an additional criterion for future genetic counselling and diagnostic sequencing.
PMCID: PMC3480465  PMID: 23110154
19.  Clinical characteristics and prognostic analysis of triple-negative breast cancer patients 
Molecular and Clinical Oncology  2013;2(2):245-251.
It is well-established that triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is a subtype of breast cancer, characterized by a poor prognosis and aggressive biological behavior. However, the available relevant data on TNBC in non-Western populations are limited. In order to analyze the clinicopathological and molecular biological characteristics and observe survival and prognostic factors, 972 breast cancer patients (156 of whom had TNBC) who received treatment at the First Affiliated Hospital of Medical School of Xi'an Jiaotong University and the First Hospital of China Medical University, between January, 2004 and January, 2007 were retrospectively evaluated. In the univariate analysis, tumor size, TNM stage, axillary lymph node status and recurrence or metastasis were identified as prognostic factors for 7-year disease-free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS). Our multivariate Cox's regression analysis demonstrated that tumor size and axillary lymph node status were significant prognostic factors for 7-year DFS and OS. Notably, tumor subgroup (TNBC vs. non-TNBC) was a significant prognostic factor associated with 7-year DFS and OS in breast cancer. It was suggested that TNBC exhibited a worse 7-year survival compared with that in non-TNBC patients, most likely due to its more aggressive behavior and insensitivity to specific therapy.
PMCID: PMC3917786  PMID: 24649341
clinicopathological characteristics; prognostic analysis; survival analysis; triple-negative breast cancer
20.  CpG island hypermethylation of BRCA1 and loss of pRb as co-occurring events in basal/triple-negative breast cancer 
Epigenetics  2011;6(5):638-649.
Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) occurs in approximately 15% of all breast cancer patients, and the incidence of TNBC is greatly increased in BRCA1 mutation carriers. This study aimed to assess the impact of BRCA1 promoter methylation with respect to breast cancer subtypes in sporadic disease. Tissue microarrays (TMAs) were constructed representing tumors from 303 patients previously screened for BRCA1 germline mutations, of which a subset of 111 sporadic tumors had previously been analyzed with respect to BRCA1 methylation. Additionally, a set of eight tumors from BRCA1 mutation carriers were included on the TMAs. Expression analysis was performed on TMAs by immunohistochemistry (IHC) for BRCA1, pRb, p16, p53, PTEN, ER, PR, HER2, CK5/6, CK8, CK18, EGFR, MUC1, and Ki-67. Data on BRCA1 aberrations and IHC expression was examined with respect to breast cancer-specific survival. The results demonstrate that CpG island hypermethylation of BRCA1 significantly associates with the basal/triple-negative subtype. Low expression of pRb, and high/intense p16, were associated with BRCA1 promoter hypermethylation, and the same effects were seen in BRCA1 mutated tumors. The expression patterns of BRCA1, pRb, p16 and PTEN were highly correlated, and define a subgroup of TNBCs characterized by BRCA1 aberrations, high Ki-67 (≥ 40%) and favorable disease outcome. In conclusion, our findings demonstrate that epigenetic inactivation of the BRCA1 gene associates with RB/p16 dysfunction in promoting TNBCs. The clinical implications relate to the potential use of targeted treatment based on PARP inhibitors in sporadic TNBCs, wherein CpG island hypermethylation of BRCA1 represents a potential marker of therapeutic response.
PMCID: PMC3121973  PMID: 21593597
BRCA1; methylation; epigenetics; triple negative; breast cancer; retionblastoma tumor suppressor gene; pRb; p16
21.  Characteristics of triple-negative breast cancer 
Triple-negative breast cancers (TNBC) neither express hormone receptors, nor overexpress HER2. They are associated with poor prognosis, as defined by low five-year survival and high recurrence rates after adjuvant therapy. Overall, TNBC share striking similarities with basal-like breast cancers (BBC), so a number of studies considered them being the same. The purpose of this review is to summarise the latest findings on TNBC concerning its relation and delineation to BBC, discuss the developmental pathways involved and address clinical implications for this complex type of breast cancer.
The recent literature from PubMed and Medline databases was reviewed.
Not all TNBC are of the intrinsic BBC subtype (nonbasal (NB)-TNBC), nor are all BBC triple-negative (non-triple-negative (NTN)-BBC). There is increasing evidence that a triple-negative, basal-like breast cancer (TNBBC) subtype develops mainly through a BRCA1-related pathway. Somatic mutations that contribute to NTN-BBC and NB-TNBC development are possibly not related to this pathway, but may occur randomly due to increased genomic instability in these tumours. Several therapeutic options exist for TNBBC, which exhibited promising results in recent clinical trials. Cytotoxic therapies, e.g. combined treatment with anthracyclines or taxanes, achieved good tumour regression rates in the neo-adjuvant setting, but also showed considerable recurrence during the first 5 years after therapy. Targeted therapy options involve PARP1 and EGFR inhibition, although both approaches still need further investigation.
TNBC and BBC are not the same disease entity. The TNBBC subtype shows the largest homogeneity in terms of tumour development, prognosis and clinical intervention options.
PMCID: PMC3018596  PMID: 21069385
Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC); Basal-like breast cancer (BBC); BRCA1; Adjuvant treatment; Patient outcome
22.  Emerging trends in the treatment of triple-negative breast cancer in Canada: a survey 
Current Oncology  2011;18(4):180-190.
Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) has a poor prognosis compared to other subtypes and lacks common therapeutic targets, including HER 2 and the estrogen and progesterone receptors. The clinicopathological heterogeneity of the disease and limited treatment options make clinical management particularly challenging. Here we present the results of a survey of Canadian clinical oncologists regarding treatment of TNBC, and review recent and ongoing clinical research in this area. Our survey results show that the majority of respondents use a combination of anthracyclines-taxanes as adjuvant therapy for early TNBC. For the first-line treatment of metastatic TNBC, most clinicians recommend taxanes, while single agent capecitabine and platinum-based therapies are more common for subsequent lines of therapy. Despite the ongoing development of novel targeted therapies, chemotherapy remains the mainstay of treatment for TNBC.
PMCID: PMC3149546  PMID: 21874117
Triple-negative; basal-like; breast neoplasms; cancer treatment; clinical opinion; clinical research; chemotherapy; targeted therapy
23.  Understanding and Treating Triple-Negative Breast Cancer 
Oncology (Williston Park, N.Y.)  2008;22(11):1233-1243.
Triple-negative breast cancer is a subtype of breast cancer that is clinically negative for expression of estrogen and progesterone receptors (ER/PR) and HER2 protein. It is characterized by its unique molecular profile, aggressive behavior, distinct patterns of metastasis, and lack of targeted therapies. Although not synonymous, the majority of triple-negative breast cancers carry the “basal-like” molecular profile on gene expression arrays. The majority of BRCA1-associated breast cancers are triple-negative and basal-like; the extent to which the BRCA1 pathway contributes to the behavior of sporadic basal-like breast cancers is an area of active research. Epidemiologic studies illustrate a high prevalence of triple-negative breast cancers among younger women and those of African descent. Increasing evidence suggests that the risk factor profile differs between this subtype and the more common luminal subtypes. Although sensitive to chemotherapy, early relapse is common and a predilection for visceral metastasis, including brain metastasis, is seen. Targeted agents, including epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibitors, are currently in clinical trials and hold promise in the treatment of this aggressive disease.
PMCID: PMC2868264  PMID: 18980022
24.  Molecular Characteristics and Metastasis Predictor Genes of Triple-Negative Breast Cancer: A Clinical Study of Triple-Negative Breast Carcinomas 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e45831.
Triple-negative breast cancer is a subtype of breast cancer with aggressive tumor behavior and distinct disease etiology. Due to the lack of an effective targeted medicine, treatment options for triple-negative breast cancer are few and recurrence rates are high. Although various multi-gene prognostic markers have been proposed for the prediction of breast cancer outcome, most of them were proven clinically useful only for estrogen receptor-positive breast cancers. Reliable identification of triple-negative patients with a favorable prognosis is not yet possible.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Clinicopathological information and microarray data from 157 invasive breast carcinomas were collected at National Taiwan University Hospital from 1995 to 2008. Gene expression data of 51 triple-negative and 106 luminal breast cancers were generated by oligonucleotide microarrays. Hierarchical clustering analysis revealed that the majority (94%) of triple-negative breast cancers were tightly clustered together carrying strong basal-like characteristics. A 45-gene prognostic signature giving 98% predictive accuracy in distant recurrence of our triple-negative patients was determined using the receiver operating characteristic analysis and leave-one-out cross validation. External validation of the prognostic signature in an independent microarray dataset of 59 early-stage triple-negative patients also obtained statistical significance (hazard ratio 2.29, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.04–5.06, Cox P = 0.04), outperforming five other published breast cancer prognostic signatures. The 45-gene signature identified in this study revealed that TGF-β signaling of immune/inflammatory regulation may play an important role in distant metastatic invasion of triple-negative breast cancer.
Gene expression data and recurrence information of triple-negative breast cancer were collected and analyzed in this study. A novel set of 45-gene signature was found to be statistically predictive in disease recurrence of triple-negative breast cancer. The 45-gene signature, if further validated, may be a clinically useful tool in risk assessment of distant recurrence for early-stage triple-negative patients.
PMCID: PMC3458056  PMID: 23049873
25.  Triple Negative Breast Cancer - Our Experience and Review 
Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) constitutes 10–25% of patients with breast cancer. TNBC is an aggressive phenotype affecting younger age groups and has poor prognosis. We retrospectively analysed 50 triple negative breast cancer patients attending our outpatient department among 270 breast cancer patients. The incidence of TNBC was 18.5%, and most of them were premenopausal 56% (28/50) with mean age was 46.66 ± 13.87 (Range 28–72 years). Most of them had Invasive ductal cancer 94% (47/50) and were high grade (Grade 3−96%)(48/50). Five patients presented with metastatic disease (2 patients only Skeletal, 1 patient with Skeletal and Lung, 1 patient with Lung and 1 patient with Liver) and 7 patients developed recurrence (all 7 had chest wall recurrence, 3 had supraclavicular lymph node recurrence, 2 had skeletal metastases and 1 had developed brain metastases) during follow up. The mean disease free survival was 15 months (Range 3–58 months) and overall survival was 20.14 months (Range 5–70 months). Fifty six percent (28/50) of patients were premenopausal and mean age of presentation was 46.66 ± 13.87 years (Range 28–72 years). Ten percent (5/50) presented with metastatic disease and 15% (7/45) developed metastases during follow up. Five patients (10%) died during follow up. Hence, Triple negative breast cancer is aggressive, with rapid progression leading to mortality in younger patients.
PMCID: PMC3372585  PMID: 23449631
Triple negative breast cancer; Basal like breast cancer; Breast cancer

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