Association of Poor Prognosis Subtypes of Breast Cancer with Estrogen Receptor Alpha Methylation in Iranian Women

  • Izadi, Pantea (Department of Medical Genetics, Medical School, Tehran University of Medical Sciences) ;
  • Noruzinia, Mehrdad (Department of Medical Genetics, School of Medical Sciences, Tarbiat Modares University) ;
  • Fereidooni, Foruzandeh (Pathology Department, Cancer Institute, Tehran University of Medical Sciences) ;
  • Nateghi, Mohammad Reza (Iranian Biological Resources Center(IBRC), ACECR)
  • Published : 2012.08.31


Breast cancer is a prevalent heterogeneous malignant disease. Gene expression profiling by DNA microarray can classify breast tumors into five different molecular subtypes: luminal A, luminal B, HER-2, basal and normal-like which have differing prognosis. Recently it has been shown that immunohistochemistry (IHC) markers including estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR) and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (Her2), can divide tumors to main subtypes: luminal A (ER+; PR+/-; HER-2-), luminal B (ER+;PR+/-; HER-2+), basal-like (ER-;PR-;HER2-) and Her2+ (ER-; PR-; HER-2+). Some subtypes such as basal-like subtype have been characterized by poor prognosis and reduced overall survival. Due to the importance of the ER signaling pathway in mammary cell proliferation; it appears that epigenetic changes in the $ER{\alpha}$ gene as a central component of this pathway, may contribute to prognostic prediction. Thus this study aimed to clarify the correlation of different IHC-based subtypes of breast tumors with $ER{\alpha}$ methylation in Iranian breast cancer patients. For this purpose one hundred fresh breast tumors obtained by surgical resection underwent DNA extraction for assessment of their ER methylation status by methylation specific PCR (MSP). These tumors were classified into main subtypes according to IHC markers and data were collected on pathological features of the patients. $ER{\alpha}$ methylation was found in 25 of 28 (89.3%) basal tumors, 21 of 24 (87.5%) Her2+ tumors, 18 of 34 (52.9%) luminal A tumors and 7 of 14 (50%) luminal B tumors. A strong correlation was found between $ER{\alpha}$ methylation and poor prognosis tumor subtypes (basal and Her2+) in patients (P<0.001). Our findings show that $ER{\alpha}$ methylation is correlated with poor prognosis subtypes of breast tumors in Iranian patients and may play an important role in pathogenesis of the more aggressive breast tumors.


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