Many studies have investigated the relationship between the E-cadherin/catenin axis and breast cancer biology and yet, unlike the studies in other tumour systems, which have shown a relationship between down-regulation and poor survival, no clear association has emerged in breast. Since accumulating evidence suggests that ductal carcinoma of no special type (NST) represents a diverse group of biologies, this study has focused on grade III ductal carcinoma, in order to reduce the heterogeneity of the study population. A total of 470 breast tumours were studied. Consecutive sections were labelled with antibodies which recognize E-cadherin and the arm proteins with which it interacts: alpha-, beta-, and gamma-catenin. Membrane-bound and cytoplasmic E-cadherin and membrane-bound alpha-catenin expression were associated with a positive oestrogen receptor (ER) status, gamma-catenin with a negative ER status, and, surprisingly, all three with poor survival. Taken together, these findings suggest that a conserved E-cadherin/catenin axis may play a part in determining adverse outcome in grade III breast carcinoma.
Copyright 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.