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1.  Circulating tumor cells in newly diagnosed inflammatory breast cancer 
Introduction
Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are an independent prognostic factor for progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) in patients with metastatic breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is one of the most aggressive forms of breast cancer. The prognostic value of a CTC count in newly diagnosed IBC has not been established. The aim of this study was to assess the prognostic value of a baseline CTC count in patients with newly diagnosed IBC.
Methods
This retrospective study included 147 patients with newly diagnosed IBC (77 with locally advanced and 70 with metastatic IBC) treated with neoadjuvant therapy or first-line chemotherapy during the period from January 2004 through December 2012 at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. CTCs were detected and enumerated by using the CellSearch system before patients were started with chemotherapy.
Results
The proportion of patients with ≥1 CTC was lower among patients with stage III than among patients with metastatic IBC (54.5% versus 84.3%; P = 0.0002); the proportion of patients with ≥5 CTCs was also lower for stage III than for metastatic IBC (19.5% versus 47.1%; P = 0.0004). Patients with fewer than five CTCs had significantly better progression-free survival (PFS) (hazard ratio (HR) = 0.60; P = 0.02) and overall survival (HR = 0.59; P = 0.03) than patients with five or more CTCs. Among patients with stage III IBC, there was a nonsignificant difference in PFS (HR = 0.66; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.31 to 1.39; P = 0.29) and OS (HR = 0.54; 95% CI, 0.24 to 1.26; P = 0.48) in patients with no CTCs compared with patients with one or more CTCs. In multivariate analysis, CTC was prognostic for PFS and OS independent of clinical stage.
Conclusions
CTCs can be detected in a large proportion of patients with newly diagnosed IBC and are a strong predictor of worse prognosis in patients with newly diagnosed IBC.
doi:10.1186/s13058-014-0507-6
PMCID: PMC4318180  PMID: 25572591
3.  Circulating tumor cells as early predictors of metastatic spread in breast cancer patients with limited metastatic dissemination 
Introduction
Traditional factors currently used for prognostic stratification do not always adequately predict treatment response and disease evolution in advanced breast cancer patients. Therefore, the use of blood-based markers, such as circulating tumor cells (CTCs), represents a promising complementary strategy for disease monitoring. In this retrospective study, we explored the role of CTC counts as predictors of disease evolution in breast cancer patients with limited metastatic dissemination.
Methods
A total of 492 advanced breast cancer patients who had a CTC count assessed by CellSearch prior to starting a new line of systemic therapy were eligible for this analysis. Using the threshold of 5 CTCs/7.5 ml of blood, pretreatment CTC counts were correlated in the overall population with metastatic site distribution, evaluated at baseline and at the time of treatment failure, using Fisher’s exact test. Time to visceral progression and time to the development of new metastatic lesions and sites were estimated in patients with nonvisceral metastases and with single-site metastatic disease, respectively, by the Kaplan-Meier method. Survival times were compared between groups according to pretreatment CTC count by logrank test.
Results
In the overall population, a pretreatment level ≥5 CTCs/7.5 ml was associated with an increased baseline number of metastatic sites compared with <5 CTCs/7.5 ml (P = 0.0077). At the time of treatment failure, patients with ≥5 CTCs/7.5 ml more frequently developed new metastatic lesions and sites compared with those with <5 CTCs/7.5 ml (development of new lesions: P = 0.0002; development of new sites: P = 0.0031). Among patients with disease originally confined to nonvisceral sites, ≥5 CTCs/7.5 ml was associated with remarkably shorter time to visceral metastases (P = 0.0021) and overall survival (P = 0.0006) compared with <5 CTCs/7.5 ml. In patients with single-site metastatic disease, ≥5 CTCs/7.5 ml was associated with a significant reduction of the time to development of new metastatic sites (P = 0.0051) and new lesions (P = 0.0002) and with worse overall survival (P = 0.0101).
Conclusion
Our results suggest that baseline CTC counts can be used as an early predictor of metastatic potential in breast cancer patients with limited metastatic dissemination.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13058-014-0440-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s13058-014-0440-8
PMCID: PMC4303121  PMID: 25223629
4.  Matrix metalloproteinase 1 and circulating tumor cells in early breast cancer 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:472.
Background
Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are involved in cancer invasion and metastasis. Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) play role in tumor dissemination and are an independent survival predictor in breast cancer (BC) patients. The aim of this study was to assess correlation between CTCs and tumor MMP1 in BC.
Methods
Study included 149 primary BC patients treated by surgery from March 2012 to March 2013. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) were depleted of hematopoietic cells using RossetteSepTM selection kit. RNA extracted from CD45-depleted PBMC was interrogated for expression of EMT (TWIST1, SNAIL1, SLUG, ZEB1) and epithelial (CK19) gene transcripts by qRT-PCR. Patient samples with higher epithelial and/or mesenchymal gene transcripts than those of healthy donors (n = 60) were considered as CTC positive. Expression of MMP1 in surgical specimens was evaluated by immunohistochemistry.
Results
CTCs were detected in 24.2% patients. CTCs exhibiting only epithelial markers were present in 8.7% patients, whereas CTCs with epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) markers (CTC_EMT) were observed in 13.4% of patients and CTCs co-expressing both markers were detected in 2.0% patients. Patients with CTC_EMT in peripheral blood had significantly increased expression of MMP1 in tumor cells (p = 0.02) and tumor associated stroma (p = 0.05) than those of patients without CTC_EMT. In multivariate analysis, CTC_EMT and tumor grade were independently associated with MMP1 expression in cancer cells, while CTC_EMT and Ki67 were independently associated with MMP1 expression in cancer associated stroma.
Conclusion
Our data suggest link between MMP1 and CTCs with EMT phenotype and support role of MMPs and EMT in tumor dissemination.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-472
PMCID: PMC4079912  PMID: 24972610
Circulating tumor cells; Matrix-metaloproteinase 1; Primary breast cancer
5.  Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition and Stem Cell Markers in Patients with HER2-Positive Metastatic Breast Cancer 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2012;11(11):2526-2534.
Currently, there is extensive information about circulating tumor cells (CTCs) and their prognostic value; however, little is known about other characteristics of these cells. In this prospective study, we assessed the gene transcripts of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition inducing transcription factors (EMT-TFs) and cancer stem cell features in HER2+ metastatic breast cancer (MBC) patients. Epithelial cells were enriched from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) using antibody-coated anti-CD326 antibody (CD326+) magnetic beads, and the residual CD326− PBMCs were further depleted of leukocytes using anti-CD45 antibody-coated magnetic beads (CD326−CD45−). RNA was extracted from all cell fractions, reverse transcribed to cDNA, and subjected to quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) to detect EMT-TFs (TWIST1, SNAIL1, ZEB1, and TG2) as a measure of CTCs undergoing EMT (EMT-CTCs). Additionally, PBMCs were analyzed using multi-parameter flow cytometry for ALDH activity and cancer stem cells (CSCs) that express CD24, CD44, and CD133. Twenty-eight patients were included in this study. At least one EMT-TF mRNA was elevated in the CTCs of 88.2% of patients and in the CD326−CD45− cell fraction of 60.7% of patients. The CD326−CD45− fraction of patients with elevated SNAIL1 and ZEB1 transcripts also had a higher percentage of ALDH+/CD133+ cells in their blood than did patients with normal SNAIL1 and ZEB1 expression (P=0.038). Our data indicate that HER2+ MBC patients have EMT-CTCs. Moreover, an enrichment of cancer stem cells was found in CD326−CD45− cells. Additional studies are needed to determine whether EMT-CTCs and CSCs have prognostic value in HER2+ MBC patients treated with trastuzumab-based therapy.
doi:10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-12-0460
PMCID: PMC3500676  PMID: 22973057
circulating tumor cells; epithelial to mesenchymal transition; stem cells; HER2; CD133; metastatic breast cancer
6.  Expression of Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition-Inducing Transcription Factors in Primary Breast Cancer: The Effect of Neoadjuvant Therapy 
Epithelial cancer cells are likely to undergo epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT) prior to entering the peripheral circulation. By undergoing EMT, circulating tumor cells (CTCs) lose epithelial markers and may escape detection by conventional methods. Therefore, we conducted a pilot study to investigate mRNA transcripts of EMT-inducing transcription factors (TFs) in tumor cells from the peripheral blood (PB) of primary breast cancer (PBC) patients.
Peripheral blood mononuclear cells were isolated from 52 stages I–III PBC patients and 30 healthy donors (HD) and sequentially depleted of EpCAM+ cells and CD45+ leukocytes, henceforth referred to as CD45−. The expression levels of EMT-inducing TFs (TWIST1, SNAIL1, SLUG, ZEB1, and FOXC2) in the CD45− cells were determined using qRT-PCR. The highest level of expression by the CD45− cell fraction of HD was used as “cut off” to determine if samples from PBC patients overexpressed any EMT-inducing TFs. In total, 15.4% of PBC patients overexpressed at least one of the EMT-inducing TF transcripts. Overexpression of any EMT-inducing TF transcripts was more likely to be detected in PBC patients who received neoadjuvant therapies (NAT) than patients who received no NAT (P = 0.003). Concurrently, CTCs were detected in 7 out of 38 (18.4%) patients by CellSearch® and 15 out of 42 (35.7%) patients by AdnaTest™. There was no association between the presence of CTCs measured by CellSearch® or AdnaTest™.
In summary, our results demonstrate that CTCs with EMT phenotype may occur in the peripheral circulation of PBC patients and NAT is unable to eliminate CTCs undergoing EMT.
doi:10.1002/ijc.26037
PMCID: PMC3169728  PMID: 21387303
circulating tumor cells; epithelial-mesenchymal transition; primary breast cancer; neoadjuvant therapy
7.  Analysis of bacteria from intestinal tract of FAP patients for the presence of APC-like sequences 
Summary
Background
Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) is a hereditary disease induced by germ-line mutations in the tumor suppressor APC gene. These initiate the early stages of the adenoma-carcinoma sequence in familial, but also in sporadic (in 80% to 90%), colon tumorigenesis. We found the presence of APC-like sequences in bacteria of FAP patients.
Material/Methods
We analyzed bacteria isolated from FAP patients’ rectal swabs. Total bacterial DNA was isolated and analyzed for detection of APC-like sequences using PCR. We also tested DNA homology rate and APC-like protein production.
Results
We collected blood samples and rectal swabs from patients with confirmed diagnosis of FAP. They were analyzed for presence of sections from exon 15 of the APC gene. Most positive results were found in sections located exactly in the area called the MCR (mutation cluster region), where the highest frequency of APC gene mutations were identified. By sequencing PCR products from bacteria in section F–G together with a patient’s DNA sample and human APC gene, we found a more than 90% DNA homology rate. We also confirmed production of APC-like protein using Western blotting.
Conclusions
Our results suggested two hypotheses. The APC-like protein might have same function as a truncated APC product, which is synthesized in most cases of mutations of APC gene in the MCR region in colorectal cancer cells. Alternatively, we can consider the possible existence of horizontal transfer of genetic information between eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells. Our study can be considered as a pilot project. For confirmation of our hypotheses, further research is needed.
doi:10.12659/MSM.883268
PMCID: PMC3560702  PMID: 22847197
APC-like sequences; familial adenomatous polyposis; colorectal cancer; bacteria; mutation cluster region
8.  Mesenchymal stem cells expressing GD2 and CD271 correlate with breast cancer-initiating cells in bone marrow 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2011;11(9):812-815.
Purpose
The bone marrow microenvironment is considered a critical component in the dissemination and fate of cancer cells in the metastatic process. We explored the possible correlation between bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BM-MSC) and disseminated breast cancer-initiating cells (BCIC) in primary breast cancer patients.
Results
The percentages of BCIC (Aldefluor+CD326+CD44+CD24−) correlated with the percentages of BM-MSC, either CD45−GD2+CD200+CD271+ (Kedall's τ = 0.684, p = 0.004) or CD45−GD2+CD271+ in the bone marrow (Kedall's τ = 0.464, p = 0.042).
Experimental Design
Bone marrow mononuclear cells (BM-MNC) were collected at the time of primary surgery in 12 breast cancer patients. BM-MNC was immunophenotyped and BCIC was defined as epithelial cells (CD326+CD45−) with a “stem-like” phenotype (CD44+CD24low/−, ALDH activity). BM-MSC was defined as CD34−CD45− cells that co-expressed GD2, CD271 and/or CD200 within CD326-depleted BM-MNC.
Conclusions
There was a positive correlation between mesenchymal stem cells expressing GD2 and CD271 and breast cancer-initiating cells in BM of patients with primary breast cancer.
doi:10.4161/cbt.11.9.15178
PMCID: PMC3230296  PMID: 21358274
mesenchymal stem cells; bone marrow; microenvironment; cancer-initiating cells; cancer stem cells
9.  Prognostic Value of EMT-Circulating Tumor Cells in Metastatic Breast Cancer Patients Undergoing High-Dose Chemotherapy with Autologous Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation 
Journal of Cancer  2012;3:369-380.
Background: Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are an independent prognostic factor in metastatic breast cancer (MBC) patients treated by conventional dose chemotherapy. The aim of this study was to determine the role of CTCs and CTCs undergoing epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in metastatic breast cancer. We used the platform of high-dose chemotherapy (HDCT) and autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (AHSCT) to study the CTCs and CTCs with EMT.
Patients and methods: CTCs were enumerated in 21 MBC patients before apheresis and 1 month after AHSCT. CD34-depleted apheresis products were analyzed for CD326+ epithelial and Aldefluor+ cancer stem cells (CSC) by flow cytometry and were depleted of CD45+ cells and assessed for EMT-inducing transcription factors (EMT-TF) by quantitative RT-PCR.
Results: Patients with ≥ 5 CTCs/7.5 mL of peripheral blood 1 month after AHSCT had shorter progression-free survival (PFS) (P=0.02) and overall survival (OS) (P=0.02). Patients with apheresis products containing high percentages of CD326+ epithelial cells or overexpressing EMT-TF had shorter PFS. In multivariate analysis, low percentage of CD326+ epithelial cells and response to HDCT with AHSCT were associated with longer PFS, whereas lower CTCs after AHSCT was associated with longer OS. High CTCs, 1 month after AHSCT correlated with shorter PFS and OS in MBC patients undergoing HDCT and AHSCT, while CTCs with EMT and CSCs phenotype in apheresis products are associated with relapse.
Conclusion: Our data suggest that CTC and CTCs with EMT are prognostic in MBC patients undergoing HDCT followed by AHSCT.
doi:10.7150/jca.5111
PMCID: PMC3471078  PMID: 23074378
metastatic breast cancer; circulating tumor cells; epithelial-mesenchymal transition; high-dose chemotherapy; autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.
10.  Circulating tumor cells as prognostic and predictive markers in metastatic breast cancer patients receiving first-line systemic treatment 
Introduction
Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) represent an independent predictor of outcome in patients with metastatic breast cancer (MBC). We assessed the prognostic impact of CTCs according to different first-line systemic treatments, and explored their potential predictive value in MBC patients.
Methods
We retrospectively evaluated 235 newly diagnosed MBC patients, treated at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. All patients had a baseline CTC assessment performed with CellSearch®. Progression-free survival and overall survival were compared with the log-rank test between groups, according to CTC count (< 5 vs. ≥ 5) and type of systemic therapy. We further explored the predictive value of baseline CTCs in patients receiving different treatments.
Results
At a median follow-up of 18 months, the CTC count was confirmed to be a robust prognostic marker in the overall population (median progression-free survival 12.0 and 7.0 months for patients with CTC < 5 and ≥ 5, respectively; P < 0.001). Conversely, in patients with human epidermal growth factor receptor-2-overexpressed/amplified tumors receiving trastuzumab or lapatinib, the baseline CTC count was not prognostic (median progression-free survival 14.5 months for patients with CTC < 5 and 16.1 months for those with CTC ≥ 5; P = 0.947). Furthermore, in patients with human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 normal tumors, a baseline CTC count ≥ 5 identified subjects who derived benefit from more aggressive treatments, including combination chemotherapy and chemotherapy plus bevacizumab.
Conclusions
This analysis suggests that the prognostic information provided by CTC count may be useful in patient stratifications and therapeutic selection, particularly in the group with positive CTCs, in which various therapeutic choices may procure differential palliative benefit.
doi:10.1186/bcr2907
PMCID: PMC3218956  PMID: 21699723
11.  Confirmation of HIV-like sequences in respiratory tract bacteria of Cambodian and Kenyan HIV-positive pediatric patients 
Summary
Background
Bacteria and yeasts isolated from respiratory tracts of 39 Cambodian and 28 Kenyan HIV-positive children were tested for the presence of HIV-1 sequences.
Material/Methods
Bacteria and yeasts from the respiratory tract (nose, pharyngeal swabs) were isolated from 39 Cambodian and 28 Kenyan HIV-positive children. Bacterial chromosomal DNA was prepared by standard protocol and by Qiagen kit. The PCR specific for HIV sequences was carried out using HIV-1-specific primers. The analysis was performed by colony and dot-blot hybridization using HIV-1-specific primers which represent gag, pol and env genes of the virus. The sequencing of some PCR products was performed on the ABI 373 DNA Sequencer.
Results
The majority of microbes were characterized as Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and resp. Candida albicans. In some cases E. coli, Streptococcus pyogenes, Proteus mirabilis and Candida tropicalis were identified. Bacteria of 16 Cambodian (41%) and 8 Kenyan (31%) children were found to be positive in colony and dot-blot DNA hybridization. By the sequencing of PCR products synthesized on the template of patients’ bacterial DNA using primers 68;69 for env HIV-1 gene, homology of greater than 90% with HIV-1 isolate HXB2 (HIVHXB2CG) was revealed.
Conclusions
Bacteria and yeasts from the respiratory tract of 41% of Cambodian and 31% of Kenyan HIV-positive children bear HIV-like sequences. The role of bacteria in the HIV disease process is discussed.
doi:10.12659/MSM.881449
PMCID: PMC3524724  PMID: 21358602
respiratory tract bacteria; HIV/AIDS positive children; HIV-like sequences; DNA hybridization; GALT; viral reservoir

Results 1-11 (11)