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Oncol Rep. 2014 Aug;32(2):523-9. doi: 10.3892/or.2014.3272. Epub 2014 Jun 16.

Involvement of macrophage migration inhibitory factor and its receptor (CD74) in human breast cancer.

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Laboratory of Anatomy and Cellular Biology, Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy, University of Mons, B-7000 Mons, Belgium.
Laboratory of Image, Signal Processing and Acoustics, Ecole Polytechnique de Bruxelles, B-1050 Brussels, Belgium.
Institute of Physiological Chemistry, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ludwig Maximilians University, D-80539 Munich, Germany.
Laboratory of Histology, Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy, University of Mons, B-7000 Mons, Belgium.
Department of Pathology, Erasme Hospital, B-1070 Brussels, Belgium.


Macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) and its receptor CD74 appear to be involved in tumorigenesis. We evaluated, by immunohistochemical staining, the tissue expression and distribution of MIF and CD74 in serial sections of human invasive breast cancer tumor specimens. The serum MIF level was also determined in breast cancer patients. We showed a significant increase in serum MIF average levels in breast cancer patients compared to healthy individuals. MIF tissue expression, quantified by a modified Allred score, was strongly increased in carcinoma compared to tumor-free specimens, in the cancer cells and in the peritumoral stroma, with fibroblasts the most intensely stained. We did not find any significant correlation with histoprognostic factors, except for a significant inverse correlation between tumor size and MIF stromal positivity. CD74 staining was heterogeneous and significantly decreased in cancer cells but increased in the surrounding stroma, namely in lymphocytes, macrophages and vessel endothelium. There was no significant variation according to classical histoprognostic factors, except that CD74 stromal expression was significantly correlated with triple-negative receptor (TRN) status and the absence of estrogen receptors. In conclusion, our data support the concept of a functional role of MIF in human breast cancer. In addition to auto- and paracrine effects on cancer cells, MIF could contribute to shape the tumor microenvironment leading to immunomodulation and angiogenesis. Interfering with MIF effects in breast tumors in a therapeutic perspective remains an attractive but complex challenge. Level of co-expression of MIF and CD74 could be a surrogate marker for efficacy of anti-angiogenic drugs, particularly in TRN breast cancer tumor.

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