Laminins are the major components of vascular and parenchymal basement membranes. We previously documented a switch in the expression of vascular laminins containing the α4 chain from predominantly laminin-9 (α4β2γ1) to predominantly laminin-8 (α4β1γ1) during progression of human brain gliomas to high-grade glioblastoma multiforme. Here, differential expression of laminins was studied in blood vessels and ductal epithelium of the breast.
In the present study the expressions of laminin isoforms α1–α5, β1–β3, γ1, and γ2 were examined during progression of breast cancer. Forty-five clinical samples of breast tissues including normal breast, ductal carcinomas in situ, invasive ductal carcinomas, and their metastases to the brain were compared using Western blot analysis and immunohistochemistry for various chains of laminin, in particular laminin-8 and laminin-9.
Laminin α4 chain was observed in vascular basement membranes of most studied tissues, with the highest expression in metastases. At the same time, the expression of laminin β2 chain (a constituent of laminin-9) was mostly seen in normal breast and carcinomas in situ but not in invasive carcinomas or metastases. In contrast, laminin β1 chain (a constituent of laminin-8) was typically found in vessel walls of carcinomas and their metastases but not in those of normal breast. The expression of laminin-8 increased in a progression-dependent manner. A similar change was observed from laminin-11 (α5β2γ1) to laminin-10 (α5β1γ1) during breast tumor progression. Additionally, laminin-2 (α2β1γ1) appeared in vascular basement membranes of invasive carcinomas and metastases. Chains of laminin-5 (α3β3γ2) were expressed in the ductal epithelium basement membranes of the breast and diminished with tumor progression.
These results suggest that laminin-2, laminin-8, and laminin-10 are important components of tumor microvessels and may associate with breast tumor progression. Angiogenic switch from laminin-9 and laminin-11 to laminin-8 and laminin-10 first occurs in carcinomas in situ and becomes more pronounced with progression of carcinomas to the invasive stage. Similar to high-grade brain gliomas, the expression of laminin-8 (and laminin-10) in breast cancer tissue may be a predictive factor for tumor neovascularization and invasion.