High serum levels of periostin are associated with a poor survival in breast cancer

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2020 Apr;180(2):515-524. doi: 10.1007/s10549-020-05570-0. Epub 2020 Feb 10.


Purpose: Periostin is a secreted extracellular matrix protein, which was originally described in osteoblasts. It supports osteoblastic differentiation and bone formation and has been implicated in the pathogenesis of several human malignancies, including breast cancer. However, little is known about the prognostic value of serum periostin levels in breast cancer.

Methods: In this study, we analyzed serum levels of periostin in a cohort of 509 primary, non-metastatic breast cancer patients. Disseminated tumor cell (DTC) status was determined using bone marrow aspirates obtained from the anterior iliac crests. Periostin levels were stratified according to several clinical parameters and Pearson correlation analyses were performed. Kaplan-Meier survival curves were assessed by using the log-rank (Mantel-Cox) test. To identify prognostic factors, multivariate Cox regression analyses were used.

Results: Mean serum levels of periostin were 505 ± 179 pmol/l. In older patients (> 60 years), periostin serum levels were significantly increased compared to younger patients (540 ± 184 pmol/l vs. 469 ± 167 pmol/l; p < 0.0001) and age was positively correlated with periostin expression (p < 0.0001). When stratifying the cohort according to periostin serum concentrations, the overall and breast cancer-specific mortality were significantly higher in those patients with high serum periostin (above median) compared to those with low periostin during a mean follow-up of 8.5 years (17.7% vs. 11.4% breast cancer-specific death; p = 0.03; hazard ratio 1.65). Periostin was confirmed to be an independent prognostic marker for breast cancer-specific survival (p = 0.017; hazard ratio 1.79). No significant differences in serum periostin were observed when stratifying the patients according to their DTC status.

Conclusions: Our findings emphasize the relevance of periostin in breast cancer and reveal serum periostin as a potential marker for disease prediction, independent on the presence of micrometastases.

Keywords: Breast cancer; Disseminated tumor cells; Minimal residual disease; Periostin; Prognostic marker.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood*
  • Bone Marrow / pathology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / blood
  • Breast Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / blood*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Grading
  • Neoplasm Micrometastasis
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Survival Rate


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • POSTN protein, human