ALDH1 is a crucial element in the retinoic acid signaling pathway regulating the self-renewal and differentiation of normal stem cells, and may play an important role in cancer progression. However, research on ALDH1 gene expression and breast cancer prognosis has yielded conflicting results. We evaluated the association between tumor tissue ALDH1A1/ALDH1A3 mRNA expression and triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) prognosis in the Shanghai Breast Cancer Survival Study (SBCSS, N=463), Nashville Breast Health Study (NBHS, N=86), and Southern Community Cohort Study (SCCS, N=47). Gene expression was measured in RNA isolated from breast cancer tissues. In the SBCSS, higher ALDH1A1 mRNA level was associated with improved disease-free (HR=0.87, 95% CI: 0.80-0.95, per log unit change) and overall survival (HR=0.85, 95% CI: 0.78-0.93 per log unit change) independent of age at diagnosis, TNM stage and treatment. We replicated the findings for overall survival in the NBHS and SCCS (HR = 0.27, 95% CI: 0.10-0.73) and for disease-free survival by a meta-analysis of four publicly-available gene expression datasets (HR = 0.86, 95% CI: 0.76-0.97). No significant association was found for ALDH1A3.Our study suggests high expression of ALDH1A1 mRNA in tumor tissues may be an independent predictor of a favorable TNBC outcome.
Keywords: ALDH1; mRNA expression; prognosis; triple-negative breast cancer.