P-cadherin and cytokeratin 5: useful adjunct markers to distinguish basal-like ductal carcinomas in situ

Virchows Arch. 2007 Jan;450(1):73-80. doi: 10.1007/s00428-006-0334-y. Epub 2006 Nov 23.


Gene expression profiles of invasive breast carcinomas have identified a subgroup of tumours with worse prognosis, which have been called "basal-like". These are characterized by a specific pattern of expression, being estrogen receptor (ER) and HER2 negative, and frequently expressing at least one basal marker such as basal cytokeratins or epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). Previously, our group characterized basal-like tumours in a series of invasive breast carcinomas using P-cadherin (P-CD), p63 and cytokeratin 5 (CK5). Based on that study, we hypothesized that those high-grade basal-like invasive carcinomas might have a pre-invasive counterpart, which could be identified using the same approach. A series of 79 ductal carcinomas in situ (DCIS) were classified into distinct subgroups according to their ER, HER2 and basal markers expression. Luminal DCIS expressed ER and constituted 64.6% of the series; the HER2 overexpressing tumours did not express ER and represented 25.3% of the cases, whereas 10.1% lack the expression of ER and HER2 and expressed at least one basal marker (P-CD, CK5, CK14, p63, vimentin and/or EGFR). These basal-like DCIS were mostly high-grade, with comedo-type necrosis, and consistently showed expression of P-CD and CK5. In conclusion, DCIS with a basal-like phenotype represent a small percentage in our series, being P-CD and CK5, the most useful adjunct markers to distinguish this subset of carcinomas in situ of the breast.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / chemistry*
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Cadherins / analysis*
  • Carcinoma in Situ / chemistry*
  • Carcinoma in Situ / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / chemistry*
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Keratin-5 / analysis*
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / analysis
  • Receptors, Estrogen / analysis
  • Vimentin / analysis


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Cadherins
  • Keratin-5
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Vimentin
  • Receptor, ErbB-2