Expression of tight junction protein claudin-4 in basal-like breast carcinomas

Pathol Oncol Res. 2009 Mar;15(1):59-64. doi: 10.1007/s12253-008-9089-x. Epub 2008 Aug 28.


Claudins (CLDN) are tight junction proteins which contribute to the paracellular transport and ionic permeability of various epithelia. In recent years they came into focus for their suggested role in carcinogenesis and possible role in cancer therapy. According to our previous studies, in breast tissue CLDN4 is also related to the level of cellular differentiation. Thirty-eight estrogen (ER) and progesterone receptor (PgR) negative, HER2/neu negative, but cytokeratin 5/6 positive basal-like-mainly grade 3-breast carcinomas were compared with twenty-one grade 1, twenty-five grade 2 and twenty grade 3 non-basal-like invasive breast carcinomas, in respect to their CLDN4 expression. The immunohistochemical reactions were evaluated both semiquantitatively and by morphometrical analysis. Statistically significant difference (p = 0.001) was observable regarding CLDN4 expression in the basal-like group as compared to grade 1 and 2 cancers. Further, CLDN4 expression was significantly higher (p = 0.017) in the basal-like compared with the non-basal-like grade 3 carcinomas. Our results suggest that basal-like carcinomas are a subset of breast cancer with high level of CLDN4 protein expression. The finding is in accordance with our former observation that CLDN4 is indeed related to cellular differentiation. This observation may be seen as a further proof that basal-like carcinomas represent a separable group amongst grade 3 breast carcinomas.

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Adenosquamous / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Adenosquamous / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Adenosquamous / secondary
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Lobular / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Lobular / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Lobular / secondary
  • Claudin-4
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / metabolism
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism
  • Receptors, Progesterone / metabolism
  • Tissue Array Analysis


  • CLDN4 protein, human
  • Claudin-4
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Receptors, Progesterone
  • Receptor, ErbB-2