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1.  Responsiveness of Intrinsic Subtypes to Adjuvant Anthracycline Substitution in the NCIC.CTG MA.5 Randomized Trial 
Recent studies suggest that intrinsic breast cancer subtypes may differ in their responsiveness to specific chemotherapy regimens. We examined this hypothesis on NCIC.CTG MA.5, a clinical trial randomizing premenopausal women with node-positive breast cancer to adjuvant CMF (cyclophosphamide-methotrexate-fluorouracil) versus CEF (cyclophosphamide-epirubicin-fluorouracil) chemotherapy.
Experimental Design
Intrinsic subtype was determined for 476 tumors using the quantitative reverse transcriptase PCR PAM50 gene expression test. Luminal A, luminal B, HER2-enriched (HER2-E), and basal-like subtypes were correlated with relapse-free survival (RFS) and overall survival (OS), estimated using Kaplan-Meier plots and log-rank testing. Multivariable Cox regression analyses determined significance of interaction between treatment and intrinsic subtypes.
Intrinsic subtypes were associated with RFS (P = 0005) and OS (P < 0.0001) on the combined cohort. The HER2-E showed the greatest benefit from CEF versus CMF, with absolute 5-year RFS and OS differences exceeding 20%, whereas there was a less than 2% difference for non-HER2-E tumors (interaction test P = 0.03 for RFS and 0.03 for OS). Within clinically defined Her2+ tumors, 79% (72 of 91) were classified as the HER2-E subtype by gene expression and this subset was strongly associated with better response to CEF versus CMF (62% vs. 22%, P = 0.0006). There was no significant difference in benefit between CEF and CMF in basal-like tumors [n = 94; HR, 1.1; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.6−.1 for RFS and HR, 1.3; 95% CI, 0.7−2.5 for OS].
HER2-E strongly predicted anthracycline sensitivity. The chemotherapy-sensitive basal- like tumors showed no added benefit for CEF over CMF, suggesting that nonanthracycline regimens may be adequate in this subtype although further investigation is required.
PMCID: PMC3743660  PMID: 22351696
2.  PAM50 proliferation score as a predictor of weekly paclitaxel benefit in breast cancer 
To identify a group of patients who might benefit from the addition of weekly paclitaxel to conventional anthracycline-containing chemotherapy as adjuvant therapy of node-positive operable breast cancer. The predictive value of PAM50 subtypes and the 11-gene proliferation score contained within the PAM50 assay were evaluated in 820 patients from the GEICAM/9906 randomized phase III trial comparing adjuvant FEC to FEC followed by weekly paclitaxel (FEC-P). Multivariable Cox regression analyses of the secondary endpoint of overall survival (OS) were performed to determine the significance of the interaction between treatment and the (1) PAM50 subtypes, (2) PAM50 proliferation score, and (3) clinical and pathological variables. Similar OS analyses were performed in 222 patients treated with weekly paclitaxel versus paclitaxel every 3 weeks in the CALGB/9342 and 9840 metastatic clinical trials. In GEICAM/9906, with a median follow up of 8.7 years, OS of the FEC-P arm was significantly superior compared to the FEC arm (unadjusted HR = 0.693, p = 0.013). A benefit from paclitaxel was only observed in the group of patients with a low PAM50 proliferation score (unadjusted HR = 0.23, p < 0.001; and interaction test, p = 0.006). No significant interactions between treatment and the PAM50 subtypes or the various clinical–pathological variables, including Ki-67 and histologic grade, were identified. Finally, similar OS results were obtained in the CALGB data set, although the interaction test did not reach statistical significance (p = 0.109). The PAM50 proliferation score identifies a subset of patients with a low proliferation status that may derive a larger benefit from weekly paclitaxel.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10549-013-2416-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3608881  PMID: 23423445
Breast cancer; Paclitaxel; PAM50 subtypes; PAM50 proliferation score; Prediction of paclitaxel efficacy
3.  VEGF induces sensory and motor peripheral plasticity, alters bladder function, and promotes visceral sensitivity 
BMC Physiology  2012;12:15.
This work tests the hypothesis that bladder instillation with vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) modulates sensory and motor nerve plasticity, and, consequently, bladder function and visceral sensitivity.
In addition to C57BL/6J, ChAT-cre mice were used for visualization of bladder cholinergic nerves. The direct effect of VEGF on the density of sensory nerves expressing the transient receptor potential vanilloid subfamily 1 (TRPV1) and cholinergic nerves (ChAT) was studied one week after one or two intravesical instillations of the growth factor.
To study the effects of VEGF on bladder function, mice were intravesically instilled with VEGF and urodynamic evaluation was assessed. VEGF-induced alteration in bladder dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons was performed on retrogradly labeled urinary bladder afferents by patch-clamp recording of voltage gated Na+ currents. Determination of VEGF-induced changes in sensitivity to abdominal mechanostimulation was performed by application of von Frey filaments.
In addition to an overwhelming increase in TRPV1 immunoreactivity, VEGF instillation resulted in an increase in ChAT-directed expression of a fluorescent protein in several layers of the urinary bladder. Intravesical VEGF caused a profound change in the function of the urinary bladder: acute VEGF (1 week post VEGF treatment) reduced micturition pressure and longer treatment (2 weeks post-VEGF instillation) caused a substantial reduction in inter-micturition interval. In addition, intravesical VEGF resulted in an up-regulation of voltage gated Na+ channels (VGSC) in bladder DRG neurons and enhanced abdominal sensitivity to mechanical stimulation.
For the first time, evidence is presented indicating that VEGF instillation into the mouse bladder promotes a significant increase in peripheral nerve density together with alterations in bladder function and visceral sensitivity. The VEGF pathway is being proposed as a key modulator of neural plasticity in the pelvis and enhanced VEGF content may be associated with visceral hyperalgesia, abdominal discomfort, and/or pelvic pain.
PMCID: PMC3543727  PMID: 23249422
4.  PAM50 Breast Cancer Subtyping by RT-qPCR and Concordance with Standard Clinical Molecular Markers 
BMC Medical Genomics  2012;5:44.
Many methodologies have been used in research to identify the “intrinsic” subtypes of breast cancer commonly known as Luminal A, Luminal B, HER2-Enriched (HER2-E) and Basal-like. The PAM50 gene set is often used for gene expression-based subtyping; however, surrogate subtyping using panels of immunohistochemical (IHC) markers are still widely used clinically. Discrepancies between these methods may lead to different treatment decisions.
We used the PAM50 RT-qPCR assay to expression profile 814 tumors from the GEICAM/9906 phase III clinical trial that enrolled women with locally advanced primary invasive breast cancer. All samples were scored at a single site by IHC for estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR), and Her2/neu (HER2) protein expression. Equivocal HER2 cases were confirmed by chromogenic in situ hybridization (CISH). Single gene scores by IHC/CISH were compared with RT-qPCR continuous gene expression values and “intrinsic” subtype assignment by the PAM50. High, medium, and low expression for ESR1, PGR, ERBB2, and proliferation were selected using quartile cut-points from the continuous RT-qPCR data across the PAM50 subtype assignments.
ESR1, PGR, and ERBB2 gene expression had high agreement with established binary IHC cut-points (area under the curve (AUC) ≥ 0.9). Estrogen receptor positivity by IHC was strongly associated with Luminal (A and B) subtypes (92%), but only 75% of ER negative tumors were classified into the HER2-E and Basal-like subtypes. Luminal A tumors more frequently expressed PR than Luminal B (94% vs 74%) and Luminal A tumors were less likely to have high proliferation (11% vs 77%). Seventy-seven percent (30/39) of ER-/HER2+ tumors by IHC were classified as the HER2-E subtype. Triple negative tumors were mainly comprised of Basal-like (57%) and HER2-E (30%) subtypes. Single gene scoring for ESR1, PGR, and ERBB2 was more prognostic than the corresponding IHC markers as shown in a multivariate analysis.
The standard immunohistochemical panel for breast cancer (ER, PR, and HER2) does not adequately identify the PAM50 gene expression subtypes. Although there is high agreement between biomarker scoring by protein immunohistochemistry and gene expression, the gene expression determinations for ESR1 and ERBB2 status was more prognostic.
PMCID: PMC3487945  PMID: 23035882
5.  VEGF signaling mediates bladder neuroplasticity and inflammation in response to BCG 
BMC Physiology  2011;11:16.
This work tests the hypothesis that increased levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) observed during bladder inflammation modulates nerve plasticity.
Chronic inflammation was induced by intravesical instillations of Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) into the urinary bladder and the density of nerves expressing the transient receptor potential vanilloid subfamily 1 (TRPV1) or pan-neuronal marker PGP9.5 was used to quantify alterations in peripheral nerve plasticity. Some mice were treated with B20, a VEGF neutralizing antibody to reduce the participation of VEGF. Additional mice were treated systemically with antibodies engineered to specifically block the binding of VEGF to NRP1 (anti-NRP1B) and NRP2 (NRP2B), or the binding of semaphorins to NRP1 (anti-NRP1 A) to diminish activity of axon guidance molecules such as neuropilins (NRPs) and semaphorins (SEMAs). To confirm that VEGF is capable of inducing inflammation and neuronal plasticity, another group of mice was instilled with recombinant VEGF165 or VEGF121 into the urinary bladder.
The major finding of this work was that chronic BCG instillation resulted in inflammation and an overwhelming increase in both PGP9.5 and TRPV1 immunoreactivity, primarily in the sub-urothelium of the urinary bladder. Treatment of mice with anti-VEGF neutralizing antibody (B20) abolished the effect of BCG on inflammation and nerve density.
NRP1A and NRP1B antibodies, known to reduce BCG-induced inflammation, failed to block BCG-induced increase in nerve fibers. However, the NRP2B antibody dramatically potentiated the effects of BCG in increasing PGP9.5-, TRPV1-, substance P (SP)-, and calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP)-immunoreactivity (IR). Finally, instillation of VEGF121 or VEGF165 into the mouse bladder recapitulated the effects of BCG and resulted in a significant inflammation and increase in nerve density.
For the first time, evidence is being presented supporting that chronic BCG instillation into the mouse bladder promotes a significant increase in peripheral nerve density that was mimicked by VEGF instillation. Effects of BCG were abolished by pre-treatment with neutralizing VEGF antibody. The present results implicate the VEGF pathway as a key modulator of inflammation and nerve plasticity, introduces a new animal model for investigation of VEGF-induced nerve plasticity, and suggests putative mechanisms underlying this phenomenon.
PMCID: PMC3226567  PMID: 22059553
6.  Molecular networks discriminating mouse bladder responses to intravesical bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG), LPS, and TNF-α 
BMC Immunology  2008;9:4.
Despite being a mainstay for treating superficial bladder carcinoma and a promising agent for interstitial cystitis, the precise mechanism of Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) remains poorly understood. It is particularly unclear whether BCG is capable of altering gene expression in the bladder target organ beyond its well-recognized pro-inflammatory effects and how this relates to its therapeutic efficacy. The objective of this study was to determine differentially expressed genes in the mouse bladder following chronic intravesical BCG therapy and to compare the results to non-specific pro inflammatory stimuli (LPS and TNF-α). For this purpose, C57BL/6 female mice received four weekly instillations of BCG, LPS, or TNF-α. Seven days after the last instillation, the urothelium along with the submucosa was removed from detrusor muscle and the RNA was extracted from both layers for cDNA array experiments. Microarray results were normalized by a robust regression analysis and only genes with an expression above a conditional threshold of 0.001 (3SD above background) were selected for analysis. Next, genes presenting a 3-fold ratio in regard to the control group were entered in Ingenuity Pathway Analysis (IPA) for a comparative analysis in order to determine genes specifically regulated by BCG, TNF-α, and LPS. In addition, the transcriptome was precipitated with an antibody against RNA polymerase II and real-time polymerase chain reaction assay (Q-PCR) was used to confirm some of the BCG-specific transcripts.
Molecular networks of treatment-specific genes generated several hypotheses regarding the mode of action of BCG. BCG-specific genes involved small GTPases and BCG-specific networks overlapped with the following canonical signaling pathways: axonal guidance, B cell receptor, aryl hydrocarbon receptor, IL-6, PPAR, Wnt/β-catenin, and cAMP. In addition, a specific detrusor network expressed a high degree of overlap with the development of the lymphatic system. Interestingly, TNF-α-specific networks overlapped with the following canonical signaling pathways: PPAR, death receptor, and apoptosis. Finally, LPS-specific networks overlapped with the LPS/IL-1 mediated inhibition of RXR. Because NF-kappaB occupied a central position in several networks, we further determined whether this transcription factor was part of the responses to BCG. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays confirmed the participation of NF-kappaB in the mouse bladder responses to BCG. In addition, BCG treatment of a human urothelial cancer cell line (J82) also increased the binding activity of NF-kappaB, as determined by precipitation of the chromatin by a NF-kappaB-p65 antibody and Q-PCR of genes bearing a NF-kappaB consensus sequence. Next, we tested the hypothesis of whether small GTPases such as LRG-47 are involved in the uptake of BCG by the bladder urothelium.
As expected, BCG treatment induces the transcription of genes belonging to common pro-inflammatory networks. However, BCG also induces unique genes belonging to molecular networks involved in axonal guidance and lymphatic system development within the bladder target organ. In addition, NF-kappaB seems to play a predominant role in the bladder responses to BCG therapy. Finally, in intact urothelium, BCG-GFP internalizes in LRG-47-positive vesicles.
These results provide a molecular framework for the further study of the involvement of immune and nervous systems in the bladder responses to BCG therapy.
PMCID: PMC2262873  PMID: 18267009
7.  Lymphatic vessel density and function in experimental bladder cancer 
BMC Cancer  2007;7:219.
The lymphatics form a second circulatory system that drains the extracellular fluid and proteins from the tumor microenvironment, and provides an exclusive environment in which immune cells interact and respond to foreign antigen. Both cancer and inflammation are known to induce lymphangiogenesis. However, little is known about bladder lymphatic vessels and their involvement in cancer formation and progression.
A double transgenic mouse model was generated by crossing a bladder cancer-induced transgenic, in which SV40 large T antigen was under the control of uroplakin II promoter, with another transgenic mouse harboring a lacZ reporter gene under the control of an NF-κB-responsive promoter (κB-lacZ) exhibiting constitutive activity of β-galactosidase in lymphatic endothelial cells. In this new mouse model (SV40-lacZ), we examined the lymphatic vessel density (LVD) and function (LVF) during bladder cancer progression. LVD was performed in bladder whole mounts and cross-sections by fluorescent immunohistochemistry (IHC) using LYVE-1 antibody. LVF was assessed by real-time in vivo imaging techniques using a contrast agent (biotin-BSA-Gd-DTPA-Cy5.5; Gd-Cy5.5) suitable for both magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and near infrared fluorescence (NIRF). In addition, IHC of Cy5.5 was used for time-course analysis of co-localization of Gd-Cy5.5 with LYVE-1-positive lymphatics and CD31-positive blood vessels.
SV40-lacZ mice develop bladder cancer and permitted visualization of lymphatics. A significant increase in LVD was found concomitantly with bladder cancer progression. Double labeling of the bladder cross-sections with LYVE-1 and Ki-67 antibodies indicated cancer-induced lymphangiogenesis. MRI detected mouse bladder cancer, as early as 4 months, and permitted to follow tumor sizes during cancer progression. Using Gd-Cy5.5 as a contrast agent for MRI-guided lymphangiography, we determined a possible reduction of lymphatic flow within the tumoral area. In addition, NIRF studies of Gd-Cy5.5 confirmed its temporal distribution between CD31-positive blood vessels and LYVE-1 positive lymphatic vessels.
SV40-lacZ mice permit the visualization of lymphatics during bladder cancer progression. Gd-Cy5.5, as a double contrast agent for NIRF and MRI, permits to quantify delivery, transport rates, and volumes of macromolecular fluid flow through the interstitial-lymphatic continuum. Our results open the path for the study of lymphatic activity in vivo and in real time, and support the role of lymphangiogenesis during bladder cancer progression.
PMCID: PMC2241841  PMID: 18047671
8.  Repeated BCG treatment of mouse bladder selectively stimulates small GTPases and HLA antigens and inhibits single-spanning uroplakins 
BMC Cancer  2007;7:204.
Despite being a mainstay for treating superficial bladder carcinoma and a promising agent for interstitial cystitis, the precise mechanism of Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) remains poorly understood. It is particularly unclear whether BCG is capable of altering gene expression beyond its well-recognized pro-inflammatory effects and how this relates to its therapeutic efficacy. The objective of this study was to determine differentially expressed genes in the mouse bladder following repeated intravesical BCG therapy.
Mice were transurethrally instilled with BCG or pyrogen-free on days 1, 7, 14, and 21. Seven days after the last instillation, urothelia along with the submucosa was removed and amplified ds-DNA was prepared from control- and BCG-treated bladder mucosa and used to generate suppression subtractive hybridization (SSH). Plasmids from control- and BCG-specific differentially expressed clones and confirmed by Virtual Northern were then purified and the inserts were sequenced and annotated. Finally, chromatin immune precipitation combined with real-time polymerase chain reaction assay (ChIP/Q-PCR) was used to validate SSH-selected transcripts.
Repeated intravesical BCG treatment induced an up regulation of genes associated with antigen presentation (B2M, HLA-A, HLA-DQA1, HLA-DQB2, HLA-E, HLA-G, IGHG, and IGH) and representatives of two IFNγ-induced small GTPase families: the GBPs (GBP1, GBP2, and GBP5) and the p47GTPases (IIGTP1, IIGTP2, and TGTP). Genes expressed in saline-treated bladders but down-regulated by BCG included: the single-spanning uroplakins (UPK3a and UPK2), SPRR2G, GSTM5, and RSP 19.
Here we introduced a hypothesis-generator approach to determine key genes involved in the urothelium/sumbmucosa responses to BCG therapy. Urinary bladder responds to repeated BCG treatment by up-regulating not only antigen presentation-related genes, but also GBP and p47 small GTPases, both potentially serving to mount a resistance to the replication of the Mycobacterium. It will be of tremendous future interest to determine whether these immune response cascades play a role in the anti-cancer effects exerted by BCG.
PMCID: PMC2212656  PMID: 17980030
9.  Transcription factor network downstream of protease activated receptors (PARs) modulating mouse bladder inflammation 
BMC Immunology  2007;8:17.
All four PARs are present in the urinary bladder, and their expression is altered during inflammation. In order to search for therapeutic targets other than the receptors themselves, we set forth to determine TFs downstream of PAR activation in the C57BL/6 urinary bladders.
For this purpose, we used a protein/DNA combo array containing 345 different TF consensus sequences. Next, the TF selected was validated by EMSA and IHC. As mast cells seem to play a fundamental role in bladder inflammation, we determined whether c-kit receptor deficient (Kitw/Kitw-v) mice have an abrogated response to PAR stimulation. Finally, TFEB antibody was used for CHIP/Q-PCR assay and revealed up-regulation of genes known to be downstream of TFEB.
TFEB, a member of the MiTF family of basic helix-loop-helix leucine zipper, was the only TF commonly up-regulated by all PAR-APs. IHC results confirm a correlation between inflammation and TFEB expression in C57BL/6 mice. In contrast, Kitw/Kitw-v mice did not exhibit inflammation in response to PAR activation. EMSA results confirmed the increased TFEB binding activity in C57BL/6 but not in Kitw/Kitw-v mice.
This is the first report describing the increased expression of TFEB in bladder inflammation in response to PAR activation. As TFEB belongs to a family of TFs essential for mast cell survival, our findings suggest that this molecule may influence the participation of mast cells in PAR-mediated inflammation and that targeting TFEB/MiTF activity may be a novel approach for the treatment of bladder inflammatory disorders.
PMCID: PMC2000913  PMID: 17705868
10.  Discriminators of mouse bladder response to intravesical Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) 
BMC Immunology  2007;8:6.
Intravesical Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) is an effective treatment for bladder superficial carcinoma and it is being tested in interstitial cystitis patients, but its precise mechanism of action remains poorly understood. It is not clear whether BCG induces the release of a unique set of cytokines apart from its pro-inflammatory effects. Therefore, we quantified bladder inflammatory responses and alterations in urinary cytokine protein induced by intravesical BCG and compared the results to non-specific pro-inflammatory stimuli (LPS and TNF-α). We went further to determine whether BCG treatment alters cytokine gene expression in the urinary bladder.
C57BL/6 female mice received four weekly instillations of BCG, LPS, or TNF-α. Morphometric analyses were conducted in bladders isolated from all groups and urine was collected for multiplex analysis of 18 cytokines. In addition, chromatin immune precipitation combined with real-time polymerase chain reaction assay (CHIP/Q-PCR) was used to test whether intravesical BCG would alter bladder cytokine gene expression.
Acute BCG instillation induced edema which was progressively replaced by an inflammatory infiltrate, composed primarily of neutrophils, in response to weekly administrations. Our morphological analysis suggests that these polymorphonuclear neutrophils are of prime importance for the bladder responses to BCG. Overall, the inflammation induced by BCG was higher than LPS or TNF-α treatment but the major difference observed was the unique granuloma formation in response to BCG. Among the cytokines measured, this study highlighted the importance of IL-1β, IL-2, IL-3, IL-4, IL-6, IL-10, IL-17, GM-CSF, KC, and Rantes as discriminators between generalized inflammation and BCG-specific inflammatory responses. CHIP/Q-PCR indicates that acute BCG instillation induced an up-regulation of IL-17A, IL-17B, and IL-17RA, whereas chronic BCG induced IL-17B, IL-17RA, and IL-17RB.
To the best of our knowledge, the present work is the first to report that BCG induces an increase in the IL-17 family genes. In addition, BCG induces a unique type of persisting bladder inflammation different from TNF-α, LPS, and, most likely, other classical pro-inflammatory stimuli.
PMCID: PMC1891101  PMID: 17506885
11.  Mandatory role of proteinase-activated receptor 1 in experimental bladder inflammation 
BMC Physiology  2007;7:4.
In general, inflammation plays a role in most bladder pathologies and represents a defense reaction to injury that often times is two edged. In particular, bladder neurogenic inflammation involves the participation of mast cells and sensory nerves. Increased mast cell numbers and tryptase release represent one of the prevalent etiologic theories for interstitial cystitis and other urinary bladder inflammatory conditions. The activity of mast cell-derived tryptase as well as thrombin is significantly increased during inflammation. Those enzymes activate specific G-protein coupled proteinase-activated receptors (PAR)s.
Four PARs have been cloned so far, and not only are all four receptors highly expressed in different cell types of the mouse urinary bladder, but their expression is altered during experimental bladder inflammation. We hypothesize that PARs may link mast cell-derived proteases to bladder inflammation and, therefore, play a fundamental role in the pathogenesis of cystitis.
Here, we demonstrate that in addition to the mouse urinary bladder, all four PA receptors are also expressed in the J82 human urothelial cell line. Intravesical administration of PAR-activating peptides in mice leads to an inflammatory reaction characterized by edema and granulocyte infiltration. Moreover, the inflammatory response to intravesical instillation of known pro-inflammatory stimuli such as E. coli lipopolysaccharide (LPS), substance P, and antigen was strongly attenuated by PAR1-, and to a lesser extent, by PAR2-deficiency.
Our results reveal an overriding participation of PAR1 in bladder inflammation, provide a working model for the involvement of downstream signaling, and evoke testable hypotheses regarding the role of PARs in bladder inflammation. It remains to be determined whether or not mechanisms targeting PAR1 gene silencing or PAR1 blockade will ameliorate the clinical manifestations of cystitis.
PMCID: PMC1853108  PMID: 17397548

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