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Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2008 Jul;110(2):273-81. Epub 2007 Sep 26.

Differential gene expression profile in breast cancer-derived stromal fibroblasts.

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  • 1Department of OB/GYN, Division of Special Gynecology, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria,



Breast cancer is characterized by malignant transformation of epithelial cells, but stromal cells also play an important role in tumorigenesis. While tumor-derived fibroblasts display unique phenotypic properties, it is unclear whether they also represent are a specific subpopulation.


Stromal fibroblasts deriving from malignant tissue of 10 women with invasive breast cancer, and from normal breast tissue of 10 women with benign breast disorders, were subjected to differential complementary DNA Microarray Analysis by using a 2,400 gene cDNA array. Individual gene expression pattern were confirmed by RT-PCR.


In a cDNA array that allows to analyze the differential gene expression of more than 2,400 genes, the mRNA expression of 135 genes were increased more than 2 fold in fibroblasts from malignant breast tumors. The majority of these genes encode tumor-promoting cytokines, transcription factors and cell-matrix associated proteins. The mRNA expression of 110 genes decreased to less than 0.5 fold. The remaining 2,155 genes were not significantly altered. RT-PCR performed on individual biopsies from breast cancer and normal breast tissues confirmed the validity of the pooled gene expression signature.


Breast cancer-derived stromal fibroblasts show a distinctive gene expression pattern that differentiates them from normal breast stroma. Our observation of increased expression of tumor promotion-associated genes even in the absence of adjacent malignant epithelium suggests that tumor stroma is comprised of a fibroblastic subpopulation that provides for a microenvironment which supports tumor growth and invasion.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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