Tumor tissue protein signatures reflect histological grade of breast cancer

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Abstract

Histological grade is one of the most commonly used prognostic factors for patients diagnosed with breast cancer. However, conventional grading has proven technically challenging, and up to 60% of the tumors are classified as histological grade 2, which represents a heterogeneous cohort less informative for clinical decision making. In an attempt to study and extend the molecular puzzle of histologically graded breast cancer, we have in this pilot project searched for additional protein biomarkers in a new space of the proteome. To this end, we have for the first time performed protein expression profiling of breast cancer tumor tissue, using recombinant antibody microarrays, targeting mainly immunoregulatory proteins. Thus, we have explored the immune system as a disease-specific sensor (clinical immunoproteomics). Uniquely, the results showed that several biologically relevant proteins reflecting histological grade could be delineated. In more detail, the tentative biomarker panels could be used to i) build a candidate model classifying grade 1 vs. grade 3 tumors, ii) demonstrate the molecular heterogeneity among grade 2 tumors, and iii) potentially re-classify several of the grade 2 tumors to more like grade 1 or grade 3 tumors. This could, in the long-term run, lead to improved prognosis, by which the patients could benefit from improved tailored care

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