Experimental models implicate protease activated receptors (PARs) as important sensors of the proteolytic tumor microenvironment during breast cancer development. However, the role of the major PARs, PAR-1 and PAR-2, in human breast tumors remains to be elucidated. Here, we have investigated how PAR-1 and PAR-2 protein expression correlate with established clinicopathological variables and patient outcome in a well-characterized cohort of 221 breast cancer patients. Univariable and multivariable hazard ratios (HR) were estimated by the Cox proportional hazards model, distant disease-free survival (DDFS) and overall survival by the Kaplan-Meier method, and survival in different strata was determined by the log-rank test. Associations between PARs and clinicopathological variables were analyzed using Pearson's χ2-test. We find that PAR-2 associates with DDFS (HR = 3.1, P = 0.003), whereas no such association was found with PAR-1 (HR = 1.2, P = 0.6). Interestingly, the effect of PAR-2 was confined to the ER-positive sub-group (HR = 5.5, P = 0.003 vs. HR = 1.2 in ER-negative; P = 0.045 for differential effect), and PAR-2 was an independent prognostic factor specifically in ER-positive tumors (HR = 3.9, P = 0.045). On the contrary, PAR-1 correlated with worse prognosis specifically in the ER-negative group (HR = 2.6, P = 0.069 vs. HR = 0.5, P = 0.19 in ER-positive; P = 0.026 for differential effect). This study provides novel insight into the respective roles of PAR-1 and PAR-2 in human breast cancer and suggests a hitherto unknown association between PARs and ER signaling that warrants further investigation.
- Cancer och onkologi