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Breast Cancer Res. 2003;5(5):R144-50. Epub 2003 Jul 17.

Expression pattern of CXC chemokine receptor-4 is correlated with lymph node metastasis in human invasive ductal carcinoma.

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Department of Surgical Oncology, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan.



The stromal cell-derived factor-1/CXC chemokine receptor-4 (SDF-1/CXCR4) signal has been shown to be important in various immunological reactions. Recent studies have suggested that CXCR4 is expressed in certain cancer cells and that they use this chemokine receptor efficiently for metastasis formation.


The expression of CXCR4 was evaluated by immunohistochemical study in 79 surgically resected invasive ductal carcinomas, and the relation between the staining pattern and clinicopathological features was examined.


CXCR4 was diffusely and homogeneously expressed in 59 cancers, which were further divided into 28 high-expression and 31 low-expression cancers by their staining intensity. The other 20 cancers showed heterogeneous immunoreactivity in tumor tissue, which was defined as focal type. In comparison with the diffuse type, focal type tumors showed significantly more extensive lymph node metastasis, because the number and extent of metastatic nodes were larger in the focal than the diffuse type. In the diffuse type, the rate of node-positive cases did not show a difference in staining intensity. However, high-CXCR4 tumors showed more extensive nodal metastasis in comparison with low-expression tumors. In contrast, the expression pattern of CXCR4 did not have a significant correlation with hematogeneous metastasis. The overall survival of these patients tended to be better in the diffuse type than in the focal type, although the difference was not statistically significant.


The expression pattern of CXCR4 was significantly correlated with the degree of lymph node metastasis in breast cancers. Our data suggest that CXCR4 might be particularly important in facilitating metastasis through the lymphatic system.

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