Background: The development of an antibody against podoplanin has enabled us to selectively stain lymphatic vessels in breast cancer samples for the first time.
Materials and methods: We investigated lymphatic vessels in 45 specimens of invasive breast cancer by immunostaining for podoplanin. Lymphatic microvessel density (LMVD) was correlated with various clinical and histopathological parameters. LMVD was also compared to blood microvessel density (BMVD), assessed by CD34 -immunostaining.
Results: LMVD as well as lymphovascular invasion (LVI) correlated significantly with the lymph node status (p=0.001/ p=0.035). Logistic regression revealed that LVI was the more important factor for development of lymph node metastasis (p=0.043). There was no significant association between various clinical and histopathological parameters and LMVD or LVI, nor was a correlation found between LMVD and BMVD (p=0.121).
Conclusion: High LMVD and the presence of LVI are strongly associated with lymph node metastasis in breast cancer.