The Expression of Galectin-3 in Tumor and Cancer-Associated Fibroblasts in Invasive Micropapillary Breast Carcinomas: Relationship with Clinicopathologic Parameters

Eur J Breast Health. 2021 Oct 4;17(4):341-351. doi: 10.4274/ejbh.galenos.2021.2021-2-8. eCollection 2021 Oct.


Objective: Galectin-3 affects tumor progression and cell surface polarization by expressing from the tumor and cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs). Therefore, it may have a role on micropapillary carcinomas (IMPC), which have characteristic morphological features. The aim was to investigate the expression levels of Galectin-3 within tumor and peritumoral CAFs in IMPC, and to compare with expression in invasive ductal carcinomas (IDC).

Materials and methods: Hematoxylin and Eosin-stained preparations of resection materials examined between 2010-2016 were re-evaluated. Thirty-four IMPC cases and 34 IDC cases with similar molecular subtype distribution to IMPC were compared. Galectin-3 levels were evaluated with a calculated H-score in tumor and semi-quantitatively in CAFs.

Results: While tumoral Galectin-3 expression levels were higher in IMPCs compared to IDCs, there was no difference for Galectin-3 expression in CAFs between the two histologic types. However, there was no significant relationship between tumoral Galectin-3 expression and clinicopathological parameters in IMPCs. When the subjects were divided into two groups, depending on their Galectin-3 status regardless of histological types, the loss of Galectin-3 expression in tumor was found to be related to larger tumor size/advanced pT stage and a greater number of metastatic nodes. Additionally, expression of Galectin-3 in CAFs was found to be associated with distant metastasis.

Conclusion: IMPC showed prominent Galectin-3 expression in tumor compared to IDC. However, independent from the histological type, whereas the loss of Galectin-3 expression in tumor showed an association with larger tumor size and higher number of metastatic axillary lymph nodes, the presence of Galectin-3 expression in CAFs showed an association with distant metastasis.

Keywords: Breast; cancer-associated fibroblast; galectin-3; invasive breast cancer; micropapillary carcinoma.