Retention of the expression of E-cadherin and catenins is associated with shorter survival in grade III ductal carcinoma of the breast

J Pathol. 2001 Apr;193(4):433-41. doi: 10.1002/path.831.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cadherins / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / pathology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / metabolism*
  • Desmoplakins
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism
  • Prognosis
  • Survival Rate
  • Trans-Activators*
  • alpha Catenin
  • beta Catenin
  • gamma Catenin


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • CTNNA1 protein, human
  • CTNNB1 protein, human
  • Cadherins
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Desmoplakins
  • JUP protein, human
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Trans-Activators
  • alpha Catenin
  • beta Catenin
  • gamma Catenin