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J Cell Mol Med. 2011 May;15(5):1066-70. doi: 10.1111/j.1582-4934.2011.01285.x.

Circulating tumour cells lacking cytokeratin in breast cancer: the importance of being mesenchymal.

Author information

1
Department of Molecular Medicine, Sapienza University, Viale Regina Elena, Rome, Italy.

Abstract

Circulating tumour cells (CTCs) are independent predictor of prognosis in metastatic breast cancer. Nevertheless, in one third of patients, circulating tumour cells are undetected by conventional methods. Aim of the study was to assess the prognostic value of circulating tumour cells expressing mesenchymal markers in metastatic breast cancer patients. We isolated CTC from blood of 55 metastatic breast cancer patients. CTC were characterized for cytokeratins and markers of epithelial mesenchymal transition. The gain of mesenchymal markers in CTC was correlated to prognosis of patients in a follow-up of 24 months. The presence of mesenchymal markers on CTC more accurately predicted worse prognosis than the expression of cytokeratins alone. Because of the frequent loss of epithelial antigens by CTC, assays targeting epithelial antigens may miss the most invasive cell population. Thus, there is an urgent need to improve detection methods to identify CTC which undergone epithelial mesenchymal transition program.

PMID:
21352474
PMCID:
PMC3822619
DOI:
10.1111/j.1582-4934.2011.01285.x
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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