Expression patterns of beta-catenin in in situ and invasive breast cancer

Eur J Surg Oncol. 2001 Feb;27(1):31-6. doi: 10.1053/ejso.1999.1017.


Background: beta-Catenin plays a central role in the E-cadherin/catenin cell-cell adhesion complex and is possibly involved in cellular signalling pathways. In this study, we evaluated the expression patterns of this molecule in in situ and invasive breast cancer.

Methods: The expression of beta-catenin was evaluated in 121 breast cancer specimens by immunohistochemistry. Its relationship to clinicopathological features was also investigated.

Results: Altered beta-catenin expression was found in 68% of tumours. Lobular carcinomas showed abnormal beta-catenin expression more frequently (77%) than ductal carcinomas (64%) with 46% of lobular cases showing complete absence of beta-catenin immunoreactivity. Cytoplasmic beta-catenin localization was seen only in ductal carcinomas. Aberrant beta-catenin expression was observed in 54% of ductal carcinomas in situ with highly concordant beta-catenin expression patterns in the nearby in situ and invasive components.

Conclusions: Quantitative and qualitative changes in beta-catenin expression occur in a considerable proportion of in situ and invasive ductal carcinomas and are more prominent in invasive lobular carcinomas.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breast Neoplasms / chemistry*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cadherins / analysis
  • Carcinoma, Intraductal, Noninfiltrating / chemistry*
  • Carcinoma, Intraductal, Noninfiltrating / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Lobular / chemistry*
  • Carcinoma, Lobular / pathology
  • Cytoplasm / chemistry
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / analysis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Trans-Activators*
  • beta Catenin


  • CTNNB1 protein, human
  • Cadherins
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Trans-Activators
  • beta Catenin