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Cancer Res. 2005 Mar 15;65(6):2170-8.

Gene expression profiling identifies molecular subtypes of inflammatory breast cancer.

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  • 1Institut de Cancérologie de Marseille, Laboratoire d'Oncologie Moléculaire, Institut Paoli-Calmettes and UMR599 Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, IFR137, France.


Breast cancer is a heterogeneous disease. Comprehensive gene expression profiles obtained using DNA microarrays have revealed previously indistinguishable subtypes of noninflammatory breast cancer (NIBC) related to different features of mammary epithelial biology and significantly associated with survival. Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is a rare, particular, and aggressive form of disease. Here we have investigated whether the five molecular subtypes described for NIBC (luminal A and B, basal, ERBB2 overexpressing, and normal breast-like) were also present in IBC. We monitored the RNA expression of approximately 8,000 genes in 83 breast tissue samples including 37 IBC, 44 NIBC, and 2 normal breast samples. Hierarchical clustering identified the five subtypes of breast cancer in both NIBC and IBC samples. These subtypes were highly similar to those defined in previous studies and associated with similar histoclinical features. The robustness of this classification was confirmed by the use of both alternative gene set and analysis method, and the results were corroborated at the protein level. Furthermore, we show that the differences in gene expression between NIBC and IBC and between IBC with and without pathologic complete response that we have recently reported persist in each subtype. Our results show that the expression signatures defining molecular subtypes of NIBC are also present in IBC. Obtained using different patient series and different microarray platforms, they reinforce confidence in the expression-based molecular taxonomy but also give evidence for its universality in breast cancer, independently of a specific clinical form.

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