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Mod Pathol. 2012 Aug;25(8):1106-16. doi: 10.1038/modpathol.2012.60. Epub 2012 Apr 6.

The prognostic and predictive power of redox protein expression for anthracycline-based chemotherapy response in locally advanced breast cancer.

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Department of Academic Oncology, School of Molecular Medical Sciences, University of Nottingham, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, City Hospital Campus, Nottingham, UK.


Neoadjuvant chemotherapy has become the standard of care for locally advanced primary breast cancer. Anthracycline-based regimens have proven to be one of the most effective treatments in this setting. As certain cytotoxic antineoplastic agents, such as anthracyclines, generate reactive oxygen species as a by-product of their mechanism of action, we examined whether redox protein expression was involved in the response to anthracycline-based chemotherapy and with clinical outcome. Pre-treatment needle core biopsy and post-anthracycline treatment tumour sections were analysed from 98 cases. In all, 32 individuals had a complete clinical response and 17 had a complete pathological response. Immunohistochemical staining was performed for eight redox proteins: thioredoxin, thioredoxin reductase, thioredoxin interacting protein (TxNIP), glutathione S-transferase (GST) π, θ and α, catalase and manganese superoxide dismutase. GST π (P=0.05) and catalase (P=0.045) were associated with pathological complete response in pre-chemotherapy samples. TxNIP (P=0.017) and thioredoxin reductase (P=0.022) were independent prognostic factors for distant metastasis-free survival and TxNIP for overall survival (P=0.014). In oestrogen receptor negative patients that are known to have a poor overall survival, a considerably worse prognosis was seen in cases that exhibited low expression of TxNIP (P=0.000003), stratifying patients into more defined groups. This study indicates the importance of redox regulation in determining breast cancer response to anthracycline-based chemotherapy and provides ways of further stratifying pre-chemotherapy patients to potentially allow more tailored treatments.

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