The clinicopathological significance of CD44+/CD24-/low and CD24+ tumor cells in invasive micropapillary carcinoma of the breast

Weidong Li, Fangfang Liu, Ting Lei, Xinsheng Xu, Bingbing Liu, Lifang Cui, Jia Wei, Xiaojing Guo, Ronggng Lang, Yu Fan, Feng Gu, Ping Tang, Xinmin Zhang, Li Fu
Pathology, Research and Practice 2010 December 15, 206 (12): 828-34
Breast cancer cells with a CD44(+)/CD24(-/low) phenotype have been suggested to have tumor-initiating properties. It is unclear whether their presence correlates with clinicopathological features of invasive micropapillary carcinoma (IMPC) of the breast, an unusual subtype of breast cancer with a high incidence of lymph node metastasis and poor prognosis. CD44 and CD24 expression was determined by double-staining immunohistochemistry in 103 cases of IMPC and in 94 cases of invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC). The prevalence of CD44(+)/CD24(-/low) tumor cells was higher in IMPC than in invasive ductal carcinoma IDC (P=0.018). The CD44(+)/CD24(-/low) tumor cells were also detected in adjacent stroma surrounding the micropapillary structure in 53.4% (55/103) of IMPC, but only in 7.4% (7/94) of stroma of IDC. These tumor cells in stroma of IMPC were positive for vimentin and α-smooth muscle actin, and negative for E-cadherin. The CD44(+)/CD24(-/low) tumor cells in the micropapillary structure of IMPC were associated with those in stroma (P=0.000). Moreover, they were both associated with lymphovascular invasion and extranodal extension, respectively (P<0.05). The proportion of CD24(+) tumor cells was also higher in IMPC than in IDC (P=0.035), and the CD24(+) tumor cells were associated with lymph node metastasis in IMPC (P=0.010). The results suggest that the increased proportion of CD44(+)/CD24(-/low) tumor cells and CD24(+) tumor cells and the epithelial mesenchymal transition may play an important role in aggressiveness and high metastatic risk of breast IMPC.

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