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J Cancer. 2019 Aug 28;10(21):5191-5211. doi: 10.7150/jca.34302. eCollection 2019.

Differential impact of classical and non-canonical NF-κB pathway-related gene expression on the survival of breast cancer patients.

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Unidad de Investigación en Virología y Cáncer, Hospital Infantil de México Federico Gómez, C.P. 06720, Ciudad de México, México.
MTA TTK Lendület Cancer Biomarker Research Group, Institute of Enzymology, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and Semmelweis University 2nd Dept. of Pediatrics, Budapest, Hungary.
Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Münster University Hospital, Münster, Germany.


Inflammation is a well-known driver of carcinogenesis and cancer progression, often attributed to the tumor microenvironment. However, tumor cells themselves are capable of secreting a variety of inflammatory molecules, leading to the activation of specific signaling pathways that promote tumor progression. The NF-κB signaling pathway is one of the most important connections between inflammation and tumorigenesis. NF-κB is a superfamily of transcription factors that plays an important role in several types of hematological and solid tumors, including breast cancer. However, the role of the NF-κB pathway in the survival of breast cancer patients is poorly studied. In this study, we analyzed and related the expression of both canonical and alternative NF-κB pathways and selected target genes with the relapse-free and overall survival of breast cancer patients. We used the public database Kaplan-Meier plotter (KMplot) which includes gene expression data and survival information of 3951 breast cancer patients. We found that the expression of IKKα was associated with poor relapse-free survival in patients with ER-positive tumors. Moreover, the expression of IL-8 and MMP-1 was associated with poor relapse-free and overall survival. In contrast, expression of IKKβ, p50, and p65 from the canonical pathway, and NIK and RELB from the alternative pathway correlated with better relapse-free survival also when the patients were classified by their hormonal and nodal status. Our study suggests that the expression of genes of the canonical and alternative NF-κB pathways is ultimately critical for tumor persistence. Understanding the communication between both pathways would help to find better therapeutic and prophylactic targets to prevent breast cancer progression and relapse.


Breast cancer; KM plotter.; NF-κB; inflammation; prognosis; survival analysis

Conflict of interest statement

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interest exists.

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