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Clin Cancer Res. 2005 Jul 15;11(14):5188-94.

Evaluating the expression and prognostic value of TRAIL-R1 and TRAIL-R2 in breast cancer.

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Department of Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.



The cell surface receptors tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand receptor 1 (TRAIL-R1) and TRAIL-R2 transmit apoptotic signals, and agents that activate these receptors are in clinical development. We sought to determine the expression and prognostic value of TRAIL-R1 and TRAIL-R2 in early-stage breast cancer.


Tissue microarrays containing specimens from 655 breast cancer patients with 20-year follow-up were employed and evaluated with our automated quantitative analysis (AQUA) system. The system uses cytokeratin to define pixels as breast cancer (tumor mask) within the array spot, and measures intensity of TRAIL receptor expression using Cy5 conjugated antibodies within the mask. AQUA scores were correlated with clinical and pathologic variables. TRAIL-R1 and TRAIL-R2 expression were similarly studied on 95 unmatched normal breast specimens.


TRAIL-R1 expression was not associated with survival. High TRAIL-R2 expression strongly correlated with decreased survival (P = 0.0005). On multivariate analysis, high TRAIL-R2 expression remained an independent prognostic marker, as did nodal status and tumor size. High TRAIL-R2 expression correlated strongly with lymph node involvement (P = 0.0003). TRAIL-R2 expression was stronger in malignant specimens than in normal breast epithelium (P < 0.0001).


High TRAIL-R2 expression was independently associated with decreased survival in breast cancer. The biological basis and the sensitivity of high TRAIL-R2 expressing cells to TRAIL agonists and/or chemotherapy are subject to further investigation. Evaluation of TRAIL-R2 expression in early-stage breast cancer may identify a subset of patients requiring more aggressive or pathway-targeted adjuvant treatment. Clinical trials involving TRAIL-R2 agonists should stratify patients based on TRAIL-R2 expression.

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