Uridine phosphorylase (UPase) and an angiogenic enzyme, thymidine phosphorylase (dThdPase) are involved in degradation of the pyrimidine nucleosides through phosphorolysis. The expression levels of UPase and dThdPase are higher in human solid tumors including breast carcinomas than in normal tissues. To clarify the correlation between the expression levels of UPase and dThdPase genes and the clinicopathological factors, mRNA levels of these enzymes were examined by RT-PCR in 43 breast carcinomas. UPase gene expression was not correlated with dThdPase gene expression (regression coefficient R = 0.032). Although the expression level of the dThdPase gene was correlated with angiogenesis, detected by immunostaining endothelial cells (R = 0.66), that of UPase gene was not (R = 0.044). These results suggest that UPase does not have a strong angiogenic activity. The UPase gene expression levels in tumors of patients who relapsed were significantly higher than in those from patients who did not (p = 0.039). Although the expression levels of neither UPase or dThdPase were associated with age, pT, pN, pM, estrogen or progesterone receptor positivity, the patients with the higher levels of UPase gene expression had worse survival (p = 0.0038) than those with lower levels. In contrast, the expression of dThdPase gene was not related to relapse or survival of these patients with breast carcinoma. Our findings suggest that the expression level of UPase gene may be an independent prognostic marker in human breast carcinoma.
Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.