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Virchows Arch. 2011 Jan;458(1):55-64. doi: 10.1007/s00428-010-0988-3. Epub 2010 Oct 13.

Immunophenotypic predictive profiling of BRCA1-associated breast cancer.

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  • 1Department of Genetics and Pathology, International Hereditary Cancer Center, Pomeranian Medical University, Polabska 4, 70-115, Szczecin, Poland.


The immunophenotypic predictive profile of BRCA1-associated cancers including major predictive markers, i.e., PARP-1, EGFR, c-kit, HER-2, and steroid hormones (ER/PR) that may have therapeutic relevance has not yet been reported in a comprehensive study. Using immunohistochemistry, we examined the expression of these proteins in a large cohort of BRCA1-associated breast cancers. PARP-1 immunoreactivity was found in 81.9%, EGFR in 43.6%, ER/PR in 17.9%, c-kit in 14.7%, and overexpression of HER-2 in 3.6% of cancers. For all markers studied, 8.2% of tumors were negative. Expression of only one predictive marker was found in 29.7% of cancers, and most frequently, it was PARP-1 (20.8%). In 62.1% of tumors, more than one predictive marker was expressed: PARP-1 and EGFR in 30.4%, PARP-1, and hormone receptors in 13.3% and PARP-1 with c-kit in 7.5% of all tumors. Coexpression of two or more other predictive markers was rare. There were significant differences in the median age at diagnosis of BRCA1-associated cancer between patients with ER+ vs. ER- and grades 1-2 vs. grade 3 tumors. These results demonstrate that BRCA1-associated cancers differ with respect to expression of proteins that are regarded as targets for specific therapies and that 92% of patients with BRCA1-associated cancers may benefit from one or several options for specific therapy (in addition to DNA damaging agents, e.g., cisplatin). About 8% of cancers which do not express therapeutic target proteins may not respond to such therapies. Knowledge of the immunophenotypic predictive profile may help with the recruitment of patients for trials of targeted therapies.

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