Expression of thyroid transcription factor-1 is associated with a basal-like phenotype in breast carcinomas
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Background: The differential diagnosis between primary and secondary breast cancers might be difficult, especially in poorly differentiated tumors. Thyroid Transcription Factor-1 (TTF-1) has been regarded as a reliable marker for lung or thyroid origin, with only occasional positive staining in other tumors. However, positive cases have recently been reported among primary breast carcinomas.
Methods and results: Here, we analyzed expression of TTF-1 protein (clone SPT24) by immunohistochemical staining of sections from paraffin embedded tumor samples in 247 primary breast cancers from the population- based Norwegian Breast Cancer Screening Program. Positive staining (weak or strong) was observed in 7 cases (2,8%). As novel observations, positivity was demonstrated more frequently in estrogen receptor negative cases (14,0% vs. 1,4%; p = 0,004), highly proliferative tumors (8,8% vs. 1,1%; p = 0,008), tumors with a basal-like phenotype by showing expression of CK5/6 and/or P-cadherin (11,1% vs. 1,4%; p = 0,01), and tumors with blood vessel invasion (9,7% vs. 1,9%; p = 0,04). Also, TTF-1 was associated with histological grade 3 tumors compared with grade 1 or 2 tumors (7,7% vs. 1,5%; p = 0,04) as well as lymph node positive cases (5,2% vs. 1,8%; p = 0,03).
Conclusions: Our population-based findings indicate that TTF-1 may be positive in approximately 3% of primary breast cancers, and positivity indicates an association with adverse prognostic factors.
Tor A Klingen et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.