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Cancer. 2003 Aug 1;98(3):474-83.

High syndecan-1 expression in breast carcinoma is related to an aggressive phenotype and to poorer prognosis.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Santa Chiara Hospital, Trento, Italy.



Syndecan-1 is a transmembrane heparan sulphate proteoglycan that is involved in cell-cell adhesion, organization of cell-matrix adhesion, and regulation of growth factor signaling.


Specimens from 254 consecutive breast carcinoma (BC) cases (110 N0, 144 N1/2) with long-term follow-up (median, 95 months) were immunostained for syndecan-1, estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PgR), and p53; in 154 cases, c-erbB-2 status was known. Syndecan-1 mRNA and protein expression also were evaluated in 20 breast tissue samples (10 normal and tumor pairs).


Syndecan-1 was expressed at high levels in 106 (42%) BCs; syndecan-1 up-regulation was confirmed by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) studies. High syndecan-1 expression was associated with high histologic grade, large tumor size, high mitotic count, c-erbB-2 overexpression, and ER and PgR negative status. At univariate survival analysis syndecan overexpression was related to poor prognosis (P < 0.01 for both overall survival (OS) and disease-free survival). Bivariate survival analysis showed an additive adverse effect for syndecan-1 and c-erbB-2 overexpression. At multivariate analysis, syndecan-1 overexpression was independently associated with poor OS (hazard ratio [HR], 1.71; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.08-2.69). High syndecan-1 expression also was of independent prognostic value for OS in the group of 102 ER-negative patients (HR, 2.42; 95% CI, 1.21-4.82). Stratifying patients on the basis of the type of adjuvant therapy given, high syndecan-1 expression was associated with a higher risk of death only in patients treated with the cyclophosphamide-methotrexate-fluorouracil regimen (HR, 1.9; P = 0.09); at multivariate analysis for OS, this association proved to be of independent statistical significance (P = 0.03; HR, 2.15).


Syndecan-1 is expressed at high levels in a significant percentage of breast carcinomas and is related to an aggressive phenotype and poor clinical behavior.

Copyright 2003 American Cancer Society.DOI 10.1002/cncr.11515

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