Aims: The purpose of this study was to examine the occurrence of CD44 isoforms in breast carcinomas and their role in predicting clinical outcome.
Methods and results: Shock-frozen tumour tissues from 110 patients with breast carcinoma were examined by immunohistochemistry using antibodies directed against CD44s, v5, v6, v7 and v3-10. In addition, 80 of these tumours were available for quantitative real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analysis of CD44s and CD44v6. Immunohistochemically, the positive tumours showed cytoplasmic and/or membranous staining with all antibodies. Staining results did not correlate with histological subtype, lymph node status, status of steroid receptors, tumour size or age. Neither was any correlation found for overall and disease-free survival. Quantitative real-time RT-PCR of CD44s and CD44v6, however, revealed that expression of CD44v6 mRNA was significantly associated with lower pathological grade (Pearson chi(2) test P = 0.009; linear-by-linear association P = 0.003). Linear-by-linear association between CD44s mRNA expression and lower pathological grade was also seen (P = 0.02). Survival analysis with the Kaplan-Meier method demonstrated that increased CD44s mRNA expression was significantly associated with both disease-free survival and overall survival (P = 0.0185 and P = 0.0344, respectively). A similar trend for CD44v6 mRNA expression was seen in these cases, but the difference was not significant.
Conclusions: Quantitative real-time RT-PCR revealed clinical correlations of CD44s and CD44v6 mRNA expression in breast carcinomas while immunohistochemistry for the protein expression of CD44s and other CD44 variants did not. This contradictory result merits further studies concerning the clinical impact of CD44 molecules in breast carcinomas.