Purpose: To examine the prognostic significance of lumican and decorin, two abundant small leucine-rich proteoglycans in breast tissue stroma.
Experimental design: Lumican and decorin expression was examined in a cohort of 140 invasive breast carcinomas by Western blot analysis. All cases were axillary lymph node-negative and treated by adjuvant endocrine therapy.
Results: Lumican and decorin expression was highly correlated (r = 0.45, P < 0.0001), but although low levels of lumican were associated with large tumor size (P = 0.0496), negative estrogen receptor (P = 0.0024) and progesterone receptor status (P = 0.0116), and increased host inflammatory response (P = 0.0077), low decorin levels were associated only with large tumor size (P = 0.0496). However, using univariate analysis, low levels of lumican and decorin were both associated with a shorter time to progression (P = 0.0013 and 0.0262) and poorer survival (P = 0.001 and 0.0076). In multivariate analysis using the Cox regression model, low decorin was also shown to be an independent predictive factor for recurrence (hazard ratio 2.25: 95% confidence interval 1-5, P = 0.047) and survival (hazard ratio 3.39: 95% confidence interval 1.2-9.6, P = 0.021).
Conclusions: These results suggest that low levels of small leucine-rich proteoglycans in breast tumors may be associated with a worse prognosis in lymph node-negative invasive breast carcinomas and warrant further study with larger patient cohorts.