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1.  Chromatin CKAP2, a New Proliferation Marker, as Independent Prognostic Indicator in Breast Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e98160.
The level of proliferation activity is a strong prognostic or predictive indicator in breast cancer, but its optimal measurement is still in debate, necessitating new proliferation markers. In the present study, the prognostic significance of the CKAP2-positive cell count (CPCC), a new proliferation marker, was evaluated, and the results were compared with those for the mitotic activity index (MAI).
This study included 375 early-stage breast cancer samples collected from two institutions between 2000 and 2006. Immunohistochemical staining was performed using a CKAP2 monoclonal antibody. Cox proportional hazard regression models were fitted to determine the association between the CPCC and relapse-free survival (RFS) amongst three groups formed on the basis of the CPCC or MAI value: groups 2 and 3 showing the middle and highest values, respectively, and group 1 the lowest.
After adjustment for age, T stage, N stage, HER2 status, estrogen receptor status, progesterone receptor status, institution, and year of surgical resection, the CPCC was associated with a significantly worse RFS {hazard ratio [HR]  = 4.10 (95% CI: 1.64–10.29) for group 2; HR  = 4.35 (95% CI: 2.04–10.35) for group 3}. Moreover, its prognostic significance was similar to or higher than that based on the MAI {HR  = 2.05 (95% CI: 0.94–4.65) for group 2; HR  = 2.35 (95% CI: 1.09–5.10) for group 3}. In subgroup analyses, the CPCC showed a prognostic significance in the luminal A and triple-negative subgroups, but not in the HER2-positive subgroup.
Chromatin CKAP2 is an independent prognostic marker for RFS in early-stage breast cancer, and could potentially replace the MAI in clinical evaluation of proliferation activity. Additionally, our study results suggest that the prognostic significance of proliferation activity differs among the various subgroups of breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC4041571  PMID: 24887265
2.  Immunohistochemical and Molecular Characteristics with Prognostic Significance in Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e98169.
Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) is an aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphoma with marked biologic heterogeneity. We analyzed 100 cases of DLBCL to evaluate the prognostic value of immunohistochemical markers derived from the gene expression profiling-defined cell origin signature, including MYC, BCL2, BCL6, and FOXP1 protein expression. We also investigated genetic alterations in BCL2, BCL6, MYC and FOXP1 using fluorescence in situ hybridization and assessed their prognostic significance. BCL6 rearrangements were detected in 29% of cases, and BCL6 gene alteration (rearrangement and/or amplification) was associated with the non-germinal center B subtype (non-GCB). BCL2 translocation was associated with the GCB phenotype, and BCL2 protein expression was associated with the translocation and/or amplification of 18q21. MYC rearrangements were detected in 15% of cases, and MYC protein expression was observed in 29% of cases. FOXP1 expression, mainly of the non-GCB subtype, was demonstrated in 37% of cases. Co-expression of the MYC and BCL2 proteins, with non-GCB subtype predominance, was observed in 21% of cases. We detected an association between high FOXP1 expression and a high proliferation rate as well as a significant positive correlation between MYC overexpression and FOXP1 overexpression. MYC, BCL2 and FOXP1 expression were significant predictors of overall survival. The co-expression of MYC and BCL2 confers a poorer clinical outcome than MYC or BCL2 expression alone, whereas cases negative for both markers had the best outcomes. Our study confirms that DLBCL, characterized by the co-expression of MYC and BCL2 proteins, has a poor prognosis and establishes a significant positive correlation with MYC and FOXP1 over-expression in this entity.
PMCID: PMC4041883  PMID: 24887414
3.  IHC Profiler: An Open Source Plugin for the Quantitative Evaluation and Automated Scoring of Immunohistochemistry Images of Human Tissue Samples 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e96801.
In anatomic pathology, immunohistochemistry (IHC) serves as a diagnostic and prognostic method for identification of disease markers in tissue samples that directly influences classification and grading the disease, influencing patient management. However, till today over most of the world, pathological analysis of tissue samples remained a time-consuming and subjective procedure, wherein the intensity of antibody staining is manually judged and thus scoring decision is directly influenced by visual bias. This instigated us to design a simple method of automated digital IHC image analysis algorithm for an unbiased, quantitative assessment of antibody staining intensity in tissue sections. As a first step, we adopted the spectral deconvolution method of DAB/hematoxylin color spectra by using optimized optical density vectors of the color deconvolution plugin for proper separation of the DAB color spectra. Then the DAB stained image is displayed in a new window wherein it undergoes pixel-by-pixel analysis, and displays the full profile along with its scoring decision. Based on the mathematical formula conceptualized, the algorithm is thoroughly tested by analyzing scores assigned to thousands (n = 1703) of DAB stained IHC images including sample images taken from human protein atlas web resource. The IHC Profiler plugin developed is compatible with the open resource digital image analysis software, ImageJ, which creates a pixel-by-pixel analysis profile of a digital IHC image and further assigns a score in a four tier system. A comparison study between manual pathological analysis and IHC Profiler resolved in a match of 88.6% (P<0.0001, CI = 95%). This new tool developed for clinical histopathological sample analysis can be adopted globally for scoring most protein targets where the marker protein expression is of cytoplasmic and/or nuclear type. We foresee that this method will minimize the problem of inter-observer variations across labs and further help in worldwide patient stratification potentially benefitting various multinational clinical trial initiatives.
PMCID: PMC4011881  PMID: 24802416
4.  A Retrospective Analysis of Incidence and Its Associated Risk Factors of Upper Urinary Tract Recurrence following Radical Cystectomy for Bladder Cancer with Transitional Cell Carcinoma: The Significance of Local Pelvic Recurrence and Positive Lymph Node 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e96467.
The aim of this study is to examine the incidence and risk factors of upper urinary tract recurrence (UUTR) following radical cystectomy (RC) in bladder cancer and to evaluate its relationship with neobladder (Neo) or ileal conduit (IC).
Materials and Methods
All clinicopathologic parameters and perioperative parameters of 311 patients who underwent RC with either Neo or IC by a single surgeon from 1999 to 2012 were retrospectively included in this study. Patients with a history of renal surgery, concomitant UUTR, or a histopathology of non-transitional cell carcinoma were excluded. For statistical analyses of predictive risk factors of UUTR, a multivariate analysis was performed with known risk factors of UUTR, including type of urinary diversion with significance defined as P < 0.05.
During the median follow-up period of 53 months, 143 (46.0%) IC and 168 (54.0%) Neo were performed, resulting in 11 (3.5%) cases of UUTR (Neo 7 and IC 4) after RC and all patients then underwent nephroureterectomy. No significant differences in incidence and overall survival in UUTR were observed according different types of urinary diversion (p = 483), and the prognosis for survival of Neo was insignificantly better than that of IC (5-year overall survival 78% vs 74%, respectively, p>0.05). Higher number of positive lymph nodes (HR 9.03) and the presence of pelvic local recurrence (HR 7286.08) were significant predictive factors of UUTR (p<0.05).
This study reports a UUTR rate of 3.5%, and positive lymph nodes and presence of local recurrence at the pelvis as important risk factors. No significant differences in incidence and survival were observed between Neo and IC.
PMCID: PMC4010468  PMID: 24798444
5.  Diagnosis of Kikuchi-Fujimoto Disease: A Comparison between Open Biopsy and Minimally Invasive Ultrasound-Guided Core Biopsy 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e95886.
Kikuchi-Fujimoto disease (KFD) is a self-limited disease without any need of surgical treatments. Sampling of tissue is the only invasive procedure during the clinical course. However, the standard sampling procedure with accuracy, minimal invasiveness, and esthetic maintenance has not been established yet. In this study, a retrospective review of clinical utility and pathological presentations of the ultrasound-guided core biopsy (USCB) and the open biopsy (OB) in consecutive KFD patients. From 2010 to 2012, 34 consecutive patients were enrolled. USCB was performed in 11 patients, and OB was done in 26 patients. KFD was confirmed in 82% cases by USCB. Similar pathological presentations were found both in the specimens of USCB and OB. In the three patients who had received both USCB and OB, KFD was confirmed by USCB in one case, while two by OB. Sampling errors were found both in USCB and OB. For diagnosing KFD, USCB can serve as the first-line diagnostic tool. OB can be applied only in the failed cases of USCB.
PMCID: PMC4008434  PMID: 24787483
6.  The Effect of Laterality and Primary Tumor Site on Cancer-Specific Mortality in Breast Cancer: A SEER Population-Based Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94815.
Reduced overall survival has been observed in patients with left-sided versus right-sided breast cancer due to cardiac toxicity after radiotherapy. However, the effect of laterality and primary tumor site on breast cancer-specific mortality (BCSM) remains unclear.
Patients and Methods
We analyzed data from 305,443 women ages 20- to 79-years-old diagnosed with breast cancer between 1990 and 2009. The data were obtained from the population-based Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program of the U.S. National Cancer Institute. The survival outcomes with regard to laterality and primary tumor site were compared using univariate and multivariate (Cox proportional hazards regression model) methods.
In the multivariate analysis, BCSM was affected by the primary tumor site (P<0.0001) but not laterality (P = 0.331). The combined effect was piecewise: using the left upper-outer quadrant as the reference, the BCSM hazard ratio (HR) was not significant in the right upper quadrant (P = 0.755) and the right central portion (P = 0.329). The BCSM HR was slightly increased in the left central portion as well as the left and right lower-outer quadrants (HRs from 1.136 to 1.145; P<0.0001). The BCSM HR was significantly increased in the upper-inner and lower-inner quadrants (HRs from 1.242 to 1.372; P<0.0001) on both sides. Laterality only impacted BCSM in patients with breast cancer located in the central portion (HR, 1.100; P = 0.013, using the right side as the reference).
Patients with tumors in the upper-outer quadrant of both sides and the right central portion have a better prognosis than patients with tumors at other locations. Laterality is not regarded as a prognostic factor in breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC3989248  PMID: 24740002
7.  Indirect Magnetic Resonance Imaging Lymphography Identifies Lymph Node Metastasis in Rabbit Pyriform Sinus VX2 Carcinoma Using Ultra-Small Super-Paramagnetic Iron Oxide 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94876.
USPIO is a contrast agent for MRI that can generate T2W images with low signal intensities. After subcutaneous or intravenous injection of USPIO, normal lymph node tissues uptake these nano-particles, but tumor cells do not. Thus, tumor metastasis can be detected using this contrast agent.
The aim of this study was to access the feasibility of USPIO enhanced MRI for the detection of cervical lymph node metastasis in a pyriform sinus carcinoma animal model and to investigate the ability of USPIO to enhance images of cervical lymph node metastases.
Methods and Findings
Twenty New Zealand rabbits were randomly divided into tumor and inflammatory groups, and each group contained 10 rabbits. In the inflammatory group, a 0.5 ml egg yolk emulsion was injected into the sub-mandibular muscle of the rabbits to induce an inflammatory reaction in their cervical lymph nodes. In the tumor group, a VX2 tumor tissue suspension was transplanted into the pyriform sinus sub-mucosa of the rabbits using direct laryngoscope. Four weeks after the tumor or egg yolk injection, MRIs were performed before and after USPIO injection to observe the imaging enhancement features of USPIO. After that, a histo-pathological analysis was performed for all rabbits. We found the metastatic lymph nodes had no signal reduced intensity or irregular signal reduced intensity on T2-weighted image by using USPIO enhancement. In the tumor group,the sensitivity and specificity of plain MRI were 57.6% and 60.7%. The corresponding values of USPIO-enhanced MRl were 96.1% and 85.7%. (P<0.05)
The features and the extent of the lymph node metastases corresponded to those observed on USPIO-enhanced MR images. USPIO-enhanced MRI is useful for the detection and estimation of lymph node metastasis in this cervical carcinoma animal model.
PMCID: PMC3986250  PMID: 24733438
8.  Breast Cancer “Tailored Follow-up” in Italian Oncology Units: A Web-Based Survey 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94063.
Breast cancer follow-up procedures after primary treatment are still a controversial issue. Aim of this study was to investigate, through a web-based survey, surveillance methodologies selected by Italian oncologists in everyday clinical practice.
Referents of Italian medical oncology units were invited to participate to the study via e-mail through the SurveyMonkey website. Participants were asked how, in their institution, exams of disease staging and follow-up are planned in asymptomatic women and if surveillance continues beyond the 5th year.
Between February and May 2013, 125 out of 233 (53.6%) invited referents of Italian medical oncology units agreed to participate in the survey. Ninety-seven (77.6%) referents state that modalities of breast cancer follow-up are planned according to the risk of disease progression at diagnosis and only 12 (9.6%) oncology units apply the minimal follow-up procedures according to international guidelines. Minimal follow-up is never applied in high risk asymptomatic women. Ninety-eight (78.4%) oncology units continue follow-up in all patients beyond 5 years.
Our survey shows that 90.4% of participating Italian oncology units declare they do not apply the minimal breast cancer follow-up procedures after primary treatment in asymptomatic women, as suggested by national and international guidelines. Interestingly, about 80.0% of interviewed referents performs the so called “tailored follow-up”, high intensity for high risk, low intensity for low risk patients. There is an urgent need of randomized clinical trials able to determine the effectiveness of risk-based follow-up modalities, their ideal frequency and persistence in time.
PMCID: PMC3979748  PMID: 24714591
9.  An Evaluation of Systematic Tuberculosis Screening at Private Facilities in Karachi, Pakistan 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e93858.
In Pakistan, like many Asian countries, a large proportion of healthcare is provided through the private sector. We evaluated a systematic screening strategy to identify people with tuberculosis in private facilities in Karachi and assessed the approaches' ability to diagnose patients earlier in their disease progression.
Methods and Findings
Lay workers at 89 private clinics and a large hospital outpatient department screened all attendees for tuberculosis using a mobile phone-based questionnaire during one year. The number needed to screen to detect a case of tuberculosis was calculated. To evaluate early diagnosis, we tested for differences in cough duration and smear grading by screening facility. 529,447 people were screened, 1,010 smear-positive tuberculosis cases were detected and 942 (93.3%) started treatment, representing 58.7% of all smear-positive cases notified in the intervention area. The number needed to screen to detect a smear-positive case was 124 (prevalence 806/100,000) at the hospital and 763 (prevalence 131/100,000) at the clinics; however, ten times the number of individuals were screened in clinics. People with smear-positive TB detected at the hospital were less likely to report cough lasting 2–3 weeks (RR 0.66 95%CI [0.49–0.90]) and more likely to report cough duration >3 weeks (RR 1.10 95%CI [1.03–1.18]). Smear-positive cases at the clinics were less likely to have a +3 grade (RR 0.76 95%CI [0.63–0.92]) and more likely to have +1 smear grade (RR 1.24 95%CI [1.02–1.51]).
Tuberculosis screening at private facilities is acceptable and can yield large numbers of previously undiagnosed cases. Screening at general practitioner clinics may find cases earlier than at hospitals although more people must be screened to identify a case of tuberculosis. Limitations include lack of culture testing, therefore underestimating true TB prevalence. Using more sensitive and specific screening and diagnostic tests such as chest x-ray and Xpert MTB/RIF may improve results.
PMCID: PMC3976346  PMID: 24705600
10.  Predicting Survival of De Novo Metastatic Breast Cancer in Asian Women: Systematic Review and Validation Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e93755.
In Asia, up to 25% of breast cancer patients present with distant metastases at diagnosis. Given the heterogeneous survival probabilities of de novo metastatic breast cancer, individual outcome prediction is challenging. The aim of the study is to identify existing prognostic models for patients with de novo metastatic breast cancer and validate them in Asia.
Materials and Methods
We performed a systematic review to identify prediction models for metastatic breast cancer. Models were validated in 642 women with de novo metastatic breast cancer registered between 2000 and 2010 in the Singapore Malaysia Hospital Based Breast Cancer Registry. Survival curves for low, intermediate and high-risk groups according to each prognostic score were compared by log-rank test and discrimination of the models was assessed by concordance statistic (C-statistic).
We identified 16 prediction models, seven of which were for patients with brain metastases only. Performance status, estrogen receptor status, metastatic site(s) and disease-free interval were the most common predictors. We were able to validate nine prediction models. The capacity of the models to discriminate between poor and good survivors varied from poor to fair with C-statistics ranging from 0.50 (95% CI, 0.48–0.53) to 0.63 (95% CI, 0.60–0.66).
The discriminatory performance of existing prediction models for de novo metastatic breast cancer in Asia is modest. Development of an Asian-specific prediction model is needed to improve prognostication and guide decision making.
PMCID: PMC3973579  PMID: 24695692
11.  Rapid Point-Of-Care Breath Test for Biomarkers of Breast Cancer and Abnormal Mammograms 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90226.
Previous studies have reported volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in breath as biomarkers of breast cancer and abnormal mammograms, apparently resulting from increased oxidative stress and cytochrome p450 induction. We evaluated a six-minute point-of-care breath test for VOC biomarkers in women screened for breast cancer at centers in the USA and the Netherlands.
244 women had a screening mammogram (93/37 normal/abnormal) or a breast biopsy (cancer/no cancer 35/79). A mobile point-of-care system collected and concentrated breath and air VOCs for analysis with gas chromatography and surface acoustic wave detection. Chromatograms were segmented into a time series of alveolar gradients (breath minus room air). Segmental alveolar gradients were ranked as candidate biomarkers by C-statistic value (area under curve [AUC] of receiver operating characteristic [ROC] curve). Multivariate predictive algorithms were constructed employing significant biomarkers identified with multiple Monte Carlo simulations and cross validated with a leave-one-out (LOO) procedure.
Performance of breath biomarker algorithms was determined in three groups: breast cancer on biopsy versus normal screening mammograms (81.8% sensitivity, 70.0% specificity, accuracy 79% (73% on LOO) [C-statistic value], negative predictive value 99.9%); normal versus abnormal screening mammograms (86.5% sensitivity, 66.7% specificity, accuracy 83%, 62% on LOO); and cancer versus no cancer on breast biopsy (75.8% sensitivity, 74.0% specificity, accuracy 78%, 67% on LOO).
A pilot study of a six-minute point-of-care breath test for volatile biomarkers accurately identified women with breast cancer and with abnormal mammograms. Breath testing could potentially reduce the number of needless mammograms without loss of diagnostic sensitivity.
PMCID: PMC3943910  PMID: 24599224
12.  Estrogen Receptor-Negative Breast Ductal Carcinoma: Clinicopathological Features and Mib-1 (Ki-67) Proliferative Index Association 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89172.
Breast cancer estrogen receptor (ER) status is one of the strong additional factors in predicting response of patients towards hormonal treatment. The main aim of this study was to assess the morphological characteristics and proliferative activity using MIB-1(Ki-67) of estrogen receptor negative invasive breast ductal carcinoma (NOS type) as well as to correlate these features with clinicopathological data. We also aim to study the expression of c-erbB2 in ER negative breast tumors. High proliferative rate (MIB-1 above 20%) was observed in 63 (63.6%) of 99 ER negative tumors and that these tumors were associated with high expression of c-erbB2 (57.6%). We observed that MIB-1 is a reliable independent prognostic indicator for ER negative infiltrating ductal carcinoma in this study.
PMCID: PMC3938433  PMID: 24586570
13.  Proline-Hydroxylated Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1α (HIF-1α) Upregulation in Human Tumours 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e88955.
The stabilisation of HIF-α is central to the transcriptional response of animals to hypoxia, regulating the expression of hundreds of genes including those involved in angiogenesis, metabolism and metastasis. HIF-α is degraded under normoxic conditions by proline hydroxylation, which allows for recognition and ubiquitination by the von-Hippel-Lindau (VHL) E3 ligase complex. The aim of our study was to investigate the posttranslational modification of HIF-1α in tumours, to assess whether there are additional mechanisms besides reduced hydroxylation leading to stability. To this end we optimised antibodies against the proline-hydroxylated forms of HIF-1α for use in formalin fixed paraffin embedded (FFPE) immunohistochemistry to assess effects in tumour cells in vivo. We found that HIF-1α proline-hydroxylated at both VHL binding sites (Pro402 and Pro564), was present in hypoxic regions of a wide range of tumours, tumour xenografts and in moderately hypoxic cells in vitro. Staining for hydroxylated HIF-1α can identify a subset of breast cancer patients with poorer prognosis and may be a better marker than total HIF-1α levels. The expression of unhydroxylated HIF-1α positively correlates with VHL in breast cancer suggesting that VHL may be rate-limiting for HIF degradation. Our conclusions are that the degradation of proline-hydroxylated HIF-1α may be rate-limited in tumours and therefore provides new insights into mechanisms of HIF upregulation. Persistence of proline-hydroxylated HIF-1α in perinecrotic areas suggests there is adequate oxygen to support prolyl hydroxylase domain (PHD) activity and proline-hydroxylated HIF-1α may be the predominant form associated with the poorer prognosis that higher levels of HIF-1α confer.
PMCID: PMC3923075  PMID: 24563687
14.  Targeted Biomarker Profiling of Matched Primary and Metastatic Estrogen Receptor Positive Breast Cancers 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e88401.
Patients with newly diagnosed, early stage estrogen receptor positive (ER+) breast cancer often show disease free survival in excess of five years following surgery and systemic adjuvant therapy. An important question is whether diagnostic tumor tissue from the primary lesion offers an accurate molecular portrait of the cancer post recurrence and thus may be used for predictive diagnostic purposes for patients with relapsed, metastatic disease. As the class I phosphatidylinositol 3' kinase (PI3K) pathway is frequently activated in ER+ breast cancer and has been linked to acquired resistance to hormonal therapy, we hypothesized pathway status could evolve over time and treatment. Biomarker analyses were conducted on matched, asynchronous primary and metastatic tumors from 77 patients with ER+ breast cancer. We examined whether PIK3CA and AKT1 alterations or PTEN and Ki67 levels showed differences between primary and metastatic samples. We also sought to look more broadly at gene expression markers reflective of proliferation, molecular subtype, and key receptors and signaling pathways using an mRNA analysis platform developed on the Fluidigm BioMark™ microfluidics system to measure the relative expression of 90 breast cancer related genes in formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue. Application of this panel of biomarker assays to matched tumor pairs showed a high concordance between primary and metastatic tissue, with generally few changes in mutation status, proliferative markers, or gene expression between matched samples. The collection of assays described here has been optimized for FFPE tissue and may have utility in exploratory analyses to identify patient subsets responsive to targeted therapies.
PMCID: PMC3919784  PMID: 24520381
15.  Integrated Genomic and Epigenomic Analysis of Breast Cancer Brain Metastasis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e85448.
The brain is a common site of metastatic disease in patients with breast cancer, which has few therapeutic options and dismal outcomes. The purpose of our study was to identify common and rare events that underlie breast cancer brain metastasis. We performed deep genomic profiling, which integrated gene copy number, gene expression and DNA methylation datasets on a collection of breast brain metastases. We identified frequent large chromosomal gains in 1q, 5p, 8q, 11q, and 20q and frequent broad-level deletions involving 8p, 17p, 21p and Xq. Frequently amplified and overexpressed genes included ATAD2, BRAF, DERL1, DNMTRB and NEK2A. The ATM, CRYAB and HSPB2 genes were commonly deleted and underexpressed. Knowledge mining revealed enrichment in cell cycle and G2/M transition pathways, which contained AURKA, AURKB and FOXM1. Using the PAM50 breast cancer intrinsic classifier, Luminal B, Her2+/ER negative, and basal-like tumors were identified as the most commonly represented breast cancer subtypes in our brain metastasis cohort. While overall methylation levels were increased in breast cancer brain metastasis, basal-like brain metastases were associated with significantly lower levels of methylation. Integrating DNA methylation data with gene expression revealed defects in cell migration and adhesion due to hypermethylation and downregulation of PENK, EDN3, and ITGAM. Hypomethylation and upregulation of KRT8 likely affects adhesion and permeability. Genomic and epigenomic profiling of breast brain metastasis has provided insight into the somatic events underlying this disease, which have potential in forming the basis of future therapeutic strategies.
PMCID: PMC3906004  PMID: 24489661
16.  For or against Adjuvant Trastuzumab for pT1a-bN0M0 Breast Cancer Patients with HER2-Positive Tumors: A Meta-Analysis of Published Literatures 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e83646.
Although the prognosis of patients with small (≤1cm) tumors is generally favorable, emerging data suggests that biological behavior varies between intrinsic subtypes in such patients. Furthermore, it still remains unclear whether HER2-positive pT1a-bN0M0 patients could benefit from adjuvant trastuzumab. For further evaluation, we sought to conduct a meta-analysis so as to get a better understanding of the prognosis for HER2-positive pT1a-bN0M0 patients and their survival benefit from adjuvant trastuzumab, accordingly, offering the implications for current practice.
The PubMed database, the online proceedings of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meetings, the online proceedings of the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, and the CD proceedings of the International St. Gallen Breast Cancer Conference were searched for all relevant studies published before September 2012. Relative risks (RRs) were used to compare the prognosis of different intrinsic subtypes for pT1a-bN0M0 breast cancer. Analyses were also performed to estimate the association between adjuvant trastuzumab and various survival outcomes.
With eight eligible studies identified, this meta-analysis demonstrated a deleterious effect of HER2+ phenotype on disease-free survival (DFS; RR = 3.677, 95% CI 2.606–5.189, p <0.001) and distant disease-free survival (DDFS; RR = 3.824, 95% CI 2.249–6.501, p<0.001) as compared to HR+/HER2- subgroup. However, significant difference failed to be achieved in terms of any endpoint between HER2+ and triple negative breast cancer (TNBC). Besides, a marked improvement in DFS was observed with the addition of trastuzumab for HER2-positive pT1a-bN0M0 patients (RR = 0.323, 95% CI 0.191–0.547, p<0.001).
This meta-analysis clarifies that intrinsic subtypes might be a reliable marker to predict the prognosis in pT1a-bN0M0 breast cancer. Besides, even for such early stage HER2-positive patients, adjuvant trastuzumab might bring significant survival benefit.
PMCID: PMC3879252  PMID: 24392090
17.  Dietary supplementation with soy isoflavones or replacement with soy proteins prevents hepatic lipid droplet accumulation and alters expression of genes involved in lipid metabolism in rats 
Genes & Nutrition  2013;9(1):373.
Accumulation of hepatic lipid droplet (HLD) is the hallmark pathology of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). This study examined the effects of soy isoflavones (ISF) and different amounts of soy proteins on the accumulation of HLD, lipid metabolism and related gene expression in rats. Weanling Sprague–Dawley rats were fed diets containing either 20 % casein protein without (D1) or with (D2) supplemental ISF (50 mg/kg diet) or substitution of casein with increasing amounts of alcohol-washed soy protein isolate (SPI, 5, 10, and 20 %; D3, D4, D5) for 90 days. Dietary casein (20 %) induced accumulation of HLD in female, but not in male rats. Both soy proteins and ISF remarkably prevented the formation of HLD. Soy proteins lowered hepatic total cholesterol and triglyceride in a dose-dependent manner. Interestingly, soy proteins but not ISF significantly increased free fatty acids in the liver of the female rats compared to D1. Proteomic analysis showed that at least 3 enzymes involved in lipogenesis were down-regulated and 7 proteins related to fatty acid β-oxidation or lipolysis were up-regulated by soy protein over D1. Additionally, 9 differentially expressed proteins identified were related to amino acid metabolism, 5 to glycolysis and 2 to cholesterol metabolism. Dietary ISF and SPI markedly reduced hepatic-peroxisome-proliferator-activated receptor γ2 (PPARγ2) and fat-specific protein 27 (FSP27) in female rats. Overall, this study has shown that partial or full replacement of dietary casein by soy protein or supplementation with soy ISF can effectively prevent the accumulation of HLD. The potential molecular mechanism(s) involved might be due to suppression of lipogenesis and stimulation of lipolysis and down-regulation of PPARγ2 and FSP27. This suggests that consumption of soy foods or supplements might be a useful strategy for the prevention or treatment of fatty liver diseases.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s12263-013-0373-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3896634  PMID: 24292949
Soy proteins; Isoflavones; Fatty liver; Lipid metabolism; Gene expression
18.  Prognostic Significance of Deregulated Dicer Expression in Breast Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e83724.
Dicer, an RNase III-type endonuclease, is the key enzyme involved in RNA interference and microRNA pathways. Aberrant expression of Dicer is reported in several human cancers. Our aim was to assess the prognostic role of Dicer in breast cancer.
The entire series comprised 666 invasive breast cancers (IBCs), 480 DCIS cases (397 associated with IBC and 83 pure DCIS) and 305 lymph node metastases. Cytoplasmic Dicer expression by immunohistochemistry was scored as negative (no staining) and positive (weak, moderate or strong staining).
Dicer staining was assessable in 446 IBC, 128 DCIS and 101 lymph node metastases. Expression of Dicer was observed in 33% (145/446) of IBCs, 34% (44/128) of DCIS and 57% (58/101) of lymph node metastases. Dicer expression was increased in nodal metastases compared to primary tumours (p<0.001); and was associated with ER negativity (p<0.001), HER2 positivity (p<0.001), high Ki67 labeling index (p<0.001) and expression of basal-like biomarkers (p = 0.002). Dicer positivity was more frequent in the HER2 overexpressing (p<0.001) and basal-like (p = 0.002) subtypes compared to luminal A subtype. Dicer expression was associated with reduced overall survival (OS) on univariate analysis (p = 0.058) and remained an independent predictor of OS on multivariate analysis (HR 2.84, 95% CI 1.43–5.62, p = 0.003), with nodal status (HR 2.61, 95% CI 1.18–5.80, p = 0.018) and PR (HR 0.28, 95% CI 0.13–0.59, p = 0.001). Further, moderate or strong expression of Dicer was associated with improved disease-free survival in the HER2-overexpressing subtype compared to negative or weak expression (p = 0.038).
Deregulated Dicer expression is associated with aggressive tumour characteristics and is an independent prognostic factor for OS. Our findings suggest that Dicer is an important prognostic marker in breast cancer and that its prognostic role may be subtype specific.
PMCID: PMC3875475  PMID: 24386264
19.  Urinary Nucleosides as Biomarkers of Breast, Colon, Lung, and Gastric Cancer in Taiwanese 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e81701.
Urinary nucleosides are associated with many types of cancer. In this study, six targeted urinary nucleosides, namely adenosine, cytidine, 3-methylcytidine, 1-methyladenosine, inosine, and 2-deoxyguanosine, were chosen to evaluate their role as biomarkers of four different types of cancer: lung cancer, gastric cancer, colon cancer, and breast cancer. Urine samples were purified using solid-phase extraction (SPE) and then analyzed using high-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS/MS). The Mann-Whitney U test and Principal Component Analysis (PCA) were used to compare differences in urinary nucleosides between patients with one of four types of cancer and healthy controls. The diagnostic sensitivity of single nucleosides for different types of cancer ranged from 14% to 69%. In contrast, the diagnostic sensitivity of a set of six nucleosides ranged from 37% to 69%. The false-positive identification rate associated with the set of six nucleosides in urine was less than 2% compared with that of less than 5% for a single nucleoside. Furthermore, combining the set of six urinary nucleosides with carcinoembryonic antigen improved the diagnostic sensitivity for colon cancer. In summary, the study show that a set of six targeted nucleosides is a good diagnostic marker for breast and colon cancers but not for lung and gastric cancers.
PMCID: PMC3868621  PMID: 24367489
20.  The Impact of Androgen Receptor Expression on Breast Cancer Survival: A Retrospective Study and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82650.
Recent studies have highlighted the role of androgen receptor (AR) as a prognostic biomarker of breast cancer. However, its predictive role in disease free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS) still remains inconclusive. The present study aimed to retrospectively investigate the association between AR and survival outcomes in breast cancer and also identify this association by a meta-analysis of published researches. Clinical data from 109 patients with breast cancer, who underwent surgery at Ruijin Hospital, Shanghai, were retrospectively analyzed for immunohistochemical AR expression measured by tissue microarray. For meta-analysis, articles available in Pubmed on the relationship between AR and breast cancer outcomes were included. Data obtained from both were combined and analyzed. Women with AR positive tumors in the retrospective study had a significantly better DFS (HR 0.24, 95% CI 0.07-0.88) and OS (HR 0.19, 95% CI 0.04-0.85) than women with AR negative ones. Meta-analysis showed that AR expression in breast tumors was an indicator of better DFS (HR 0.52, 95% CI 0.43-0.64). In subgroup analysis, AR could predict DFS outcome in estrogen receptor (ER) positive (HR 0.45, 95% CI 0.34-0.59), ER negative (HR 0.42, 95% CI 0.26-0.67), and triple negative breast cancer (HR 0.40, 95% CI 0.23-0.69). Moreover, in ER positive breast cancer patients, the expression of AR could predict better OS (HR 0.39, 95% CI 0.19-0.82). The present analysis indicated that AR expression was associated with lower risk of recurrence in patients with all breast cancer types and better OS in cases with ER positive.
PMCID: PMC3853592  PMID: 24324816
21.  γ-Secretase Components as Predictors of Breast Cancer Outcome 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79249.
γ-secretase is a large ubiquitously expressed protease complex composed of four core subunits: presenilin, Aph1, PEN-2, and nicastrin. The function of γ-secretase in the cells is to proteolytically cleave various proteins within their transmembrane domains. Presenilin and Aph1 occur as alternative variants belonging to mutually exclusive γ-secretase complexes and providing the complexes with heterogeneous biochemical and physiological properties. γ-secretase is proposed to have a role in the development and progression of cancer and γ-secretase inhibitors are intensively studied for their probable anti-tumor effects in various types of cancer models. Here, we for the first time determined mRNA expression levels of presenilin-1, presenilin-2, Aph1a, Aph1b, PEN-2, and nicastrin in a set of breast cancer tissue samples (N = 55) by quantitative real-time PCR in order to clarify the clinical significance of the expression of different γ-secretase complex components in breast cancer. We found a high positive correlation between the subunit expression levels implying a common regulation of transcription. Our univariate Kaplan-Meier survival analyses established low expression level of γ-secretase complex as a risk factor for breast cancer specific mortality. The tumors expressing low levels of γ-secretase complex were characterized by high histopathological tumor grade, low or no expression of estrogen and progesterone receptors and consequently high probability to fall into the class of triple negative breast cancer tumors. These results may provide novel tools to further categorize breast cancer tumors, especially the highly aggressive and poorly treatable breast cancer type of triple negative cases, and suggest a significant role for γ-secretase in breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC3815159  PMID: 24223915
22.  Strong Impact of TGF-β1 Gene Polymorphisms on Breast Cancer Risk in Indian Women: A Case-Control and Population-Based Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e75979.
TGF-β1 is a multi-functional cytokine that plays an important role in breast carcinogenesis. Critical role of TGF-β1 signaling in breast cancer progression is well documented. Some TGF-β1 polymorphisms influence its expression; however, their impact on breast cancer risk is not clear.
We analyzed 1222 samples in a candidate gene-based genetic association study on two distantly located and ethnically divergent case-control groups of Indian women, followed by a population-based genetic epidemiology study analyzing these polymorphisms in other Indian populations. The c.29C>T (Pro10Leu, rs1982073 or rs1800470) and c.74G>C (Arg25Pro, rs1800471) polymorphisms in the TGF-β1 gene were analyzed using direct DNA sequencing, and peripheral level of TGF-β1 were measured by ELISA.
c.29C>T substitution increased breast cancer risk, irrespective of ethnicity and menopausal status. On the other hand, c.74G>C substitution reduced breast cancer risk significantly in the north Indian group (p = 0.0005) and only in the pre-menopausal women. The protective effect of c.74G>C polymorphism may be ethnicity-specific, as no association was seen in south Indian group. The polymorphic status of c.29C>T was comparable among Indo-Europeans, Dravidians, and Tibeto-Burmans. Interestingly, we found that Tibeto-Burmans lack polymorphism at c.74G>C locus as true for the Chinese populations. However, the Brahmins of Nepal (Indo-Europeans) showed polymorphism in 2.08% of alleles. Mean TGF-β1 was significantly elevated in patients in comparison to controls (p<0.001).
c.29C>T and c.74G>C polymorphisms in the TGF-β1 gene significantly affect breast cancer risk, which correlates with elevated TGF-β1 level in the patients. The c.29C>T locus is polymorphic across ethnically different populations, but c.74G>C locus is monomorphic in Tibeto-Burmans and polymorphic in other Indian populations.
PMCID: PMC3798290  PMID: 24146803
23.  Habitual Consumption of Soy Products and Risk of Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma in Chinese Adults: A Case-Control Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e77822.
Background and Objectives
Many studies have shown a negative association between the consumption of soy products and the risk of some cancers, but little is known about the effect of soy consumption on nasopharyngeal carcinoma. We assessed the association between the consumption of soy products on nasopharyngeal carcinoma risk in Chinese individuals.
This case-control study included 600 (448 males and 152 females) incident cases of nasopharyngeal carcinoma, and an equal number of controls, matched according to gender, age (± 3 y) and household type to the nasopharyngeal carcinoma cases. All subjects were recruited from hospitals in Guangzhou, China. A face-to-face interview was conducted with each study individual to collect general information and habitual dietary intake using a 78-item quantitative food-frequency questionnaire. Odds ratios and their 95% confidence intervals were estimated using conditional logistic regression analyses.
The median intakes of soy foods (in protein) were 0.5/0.5, 1.4/1.7, 2.7/3.3 and 6.1/7.7 (male/female) g/d in the quartiles 1 to 4. Both univariate and multivariate analyses showed no significant association between the consumption of soy proteins or soy isoflavones and the risk of nasopharyngeal carcinoma. The adjusted odds ratios (95% confidence intervals) between extreme quartiles were 0.97 (0.66-1.45) for soy proteins and 0.97 (0.66-1.42) for total isoflavones. Null associations were also observed between intake of the individual isoflavones daidzein, genistein and glycitein and NPC risk, with adjusted odds ratios for the extreme quartiles ranging between 0.73 and 1.23.
Habitual consumption of soy products had no significant effect on the risk of nasopharyngeal carcinoma in Chinese adults with a relatively low intake.
PMCID: PMC3796467  PMID: 24155974
24.  Can Proliferation Biomarkers Reliably Predict Recurrence in World Health Organization 2003 Defined Endometrial Stromal Sarcoma, Low Grade? 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e75899.
An estimated 1500–3000 invasive Endometrial Stromal Sarcomas (ESS) cases annually occur worldwide. Before 2003, ESS was divided as low and high grade ESS based on mitotic activity. In 2003 the WHO changed the names, excluded mitoses and made nuclear atypia and necrosis the essential diagnostic criteria to distinguish ESS, Low Grade (ESS-LG, recurrence-free survival >90%) and Undifferentiated Endometrial Sarcoma (UES, poor prognosis). We have evaluated in WHO2003 defined ESS-LG whether proliferation biomarkers predict recurrence. Using survival analysis, the prognostic value of classical mitosis counts (Mitotic Activity Index, MAI) in haematoxyllin-eosin (H&E) sections, and immunohistochemical proliferation biomarkers (Ki-67 and PhosphoHistone-3 (PPH3)) were examined in 24 invasive endometrial stromal sarcomas. Three of 24 (12.5%) ESS-LG recurred. The MAI, PPH3 and Ki-67 were all prognostic (P = 0.001, 0.002 and 0.03). MAI values were >3 in the recurrent cases, but never exceeded 10 (the classical threshold for low and high grade). Non-recurrent cases had 0≤MAI≤3. PPH3 and Ki67 counts can be easier to perform than MAI and therefore helpful in the diagnosis of ESS, Low Grade. In conclusion, in this small study of WHO2003 defined ESS-LG, high levels of proliferation as measured by MAI, PPH3 and Ki-67 are predictive of recurrence. Larger studies are required to confirm these results.
PMCID: PMC3795675  PMID: 24146786
25.  Heterogeneity of Estrogen Receptor Expression in Circulating Tumor Cells from Metastatic Breast Cancer Patients 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e75038.
Endocrine treatment is the most preferable systemic treatment in metastatic breast cancer patients that have had an estrogen receptor (ER) positive primary tumor or metastatic lesions, however, approximately 20% of these patients do not benefit from the therapy and demonstrate further metastatic progress. One reason for failure of endocrine therapy might be the heterogeneity of ER expression in tumor cells spreading from the primary tumor to distant sites which is reflected in detectable circulating tumor cells (CTCs).
A sensitive and specific staining protocol for ER, keratin 8/18/19, CD45 was established. Peripheral blood from 35 metastatic breast cancer patients with ER-positive primary tumors was tested for the presence of CTCs. Keratin 8/18/19 and DAPI positive but CD45 negative cells were classified as CTCs and evaluated for ER staining. Subsequently, eight individual CTCs from four index patients (2 CTCs per patient) were isolated and underwent whole genome amplification and ESR1 gene mutation analysis.
CTCs were detected in blood of 16 from 35 analyzed patients (46%), with a median of 3 CTCs/7.5 ml. In total, ER-negative CTCs were detected in 11/16 (69%) of the CTC positive cases, including blood samples with only ER-negative CTCs (19%) and samples with both ER-positive and ER-negative CTCs (50%). No correlation was found between the intensity and/or percentage of ER staining in the primary tumor with the number and ER status of CTCs of the same patient. ESR1 gene mutations were not found.
CTCs frequently lack ER expression in metastatic breast cancer patients with ER-positive primary tumors and show a considerable intra-patient heterogeneity, which may reflect a mechanism to escape endocrine therapy. Provided single cell analysis did not support a role of ESR1 mutations in this process.
PMCID: PMC3776726  PMID: 24058649

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