Recent studies have revealed that BRCA1 and BRCA2 germline mutation-related breast cancers show frequent overexpression of hypoxia inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α), the key regulator of the hypoxia response. However, the question remained whether hypoxia is a late stage bystander or a true carcinogenetic event in patients with hereditary predisposition. We therefore studied HIF-1α overexpression in ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), an established precursor of invasive breast cancer. We used immunohistochemistry to examine the expression of the hypoxia markers HIF-1α, CAIX and Glut-1 in DCIS and available invasive carcinoma lesions of 32 BRCA1, 16 BRCA2 and 77 non-BRCA mutation-related cases. HIF-1α expression was detected in 63% of BRCA1 and 62% of BRCA2 as compared to 34% of non-BRCA mutation-related DCIS cases (p = 0.005). CAIX overexpression was present in 56% of BRCA1 and 44% of BRCA2 as compared to 6% of non-BRCA mutation-related DCIS cases (p = 0.000). Glut-1 overexpression was observed in 59% of BRCA1, 75% of BRCA2 and 67% of non-BRCA mutation-related DCIS cases (p = 0.527). Overall, HIF-1α, CAIX and Glut-1 expression in BRCA mutation-related DCIS matched the expression in the accompanying invasive cancers in 60% or more of cases. In non-BRCA mutation-related cases the expression of the hypoxia markers in DCIS matched the expression in the invasive part in 46% or more of the cases. Although BRCA1 and BRCA2 germline mutation-related invasive breast cancers are different in many ways, the hypoxia-related proteins HIF-1α, CAIX and Glut-1 are expressed in both DCIS and invasive lesions of BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers. This suggests that hypoxia may already play a role in the DCIS stage of BRCA1 and BRCA2 germline mutation related breast carcinogenesis, and may also drive cancer progression. Hypoxia-related proteins are therefore putative targets for therapy and molecular imaging for early detection and monitoring therapy response in BRCA mutation patients.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)