Angiogenic factors produced by tumor cells are essential for tumor growth and metastasis. In our study, the expression of Angiopoietin-1 (ANG1) and Angiopoietin-2 (ANG2) mRNA in archival human breast cancer tumor samples and in 6 breast cancer cell lines was investigated. Total RNA from biopsies of 38 breast cancer patients was extracted and ANG1 and ANG2 mRNA expression was measured by means of quantitative real-time RT-PCR (Taqman). Matching data with available clinicopathologic and biochemical data revealed a significant association between ANG2 expression and axillary lymph node invasion. Univariate and multivariate survival analysis, by means of Kaplan-Meier method and Cox's proportional hazards model, showed significant and independent association between ANG2 mRNA level and both disease-free (p < 0.0001) and overall survival (p < 0.0003). An important fact is that, notwithstanding the small number of cases examined, this association was confirmed also in the group of lymph node-negative patients (DFS, p < 0.003; OS, p < 0.020). Immunohistochemical analysis demonstrated that Ang2 is expressed by both tumor cells and endothelial elements. Expression in tumor cells was confirmed by studying a panel of human breast carcinoma cell lines in culture by RT-PCR. In ZR75.1 and T47D cells, expression of ANG2 mRNA was increased up to 10-fold by treatment with estrogen within 24 hr. Although preliminary, these data suggest a possible role of ANG2 as a prognostic factor for primary breast cancer.
Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.