Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Breast Cancer Res. 2007;9(5):R65.

Gene expression profiling and histopathological characterization of triple-negative/basal-like breast carcinomas.

Author information

  • 1Division of Radiation Oncology, The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Plesmanlaan 121, 1066 CX Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



Breast cancer is a heterogeneous group of tumors, and can be subdivided on the basis of histopathological features, genetic alterations and gene-expression profiles. One well-defined subtype of breast cancer is characterized by a lack of HER2 gene amplification and estrogen and progesterone receptor expression ('triple-negative tumors'). We examined the histopathological and gene-expression profile of triple-negative tumors to define subgroups with specific characteristics, including risk of developing distant metastases.


97 triple-negative tumors were selected from the fresh-frozen tissue bank of the Netherlands Cancer Institute, and gene-expression profiles were generated using 35K oligonucleotide microarrays. In addition, histopathological and immunohistochemical characterization was performed, and the findings were associated to clinical features.


All triple-negative tumors were classified as basal-like tumors on the basis of their overall gene-expression profile. Hierarchical cluster analysis revealed five distinct subgroups of triple-negative breast cancers. Multivariable analysis showed that a large amount of lymphocytic infiltrate (HR = 0.30, 95% CI 0.09-0.96) and absence of central fibrosis in the tumors (HR = 0.14, 95% CI 0.03-0.62) were associated with distant metastasis-free survival.


Triple-negative tumors are synonymous with basal-like tumors, and can be identified by immunohistochemistry. Based on gene-expression profiling, basal-like tumors are still heterogeneous and can be subdivided into at least five distinct subgroups. The development of distant metastasis in basal-like tumors is associated with the presence of central fibrosis and a small amount of lymphocytic infiltrate.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for BioMed Central Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk