Elevated concentrations of serum relaxin are associated with metastatic disease in breast cancer patients


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Abstract

SummaryRelaxin (RLX) is known to induce remodeling of benign stromal tissues through upregulation of matrix metalloproteases (MMPs). Recently, we could show that RLX also induces MMPs in breast cancer cells and enhances in vitro invasiveness. To investigate its potential role for progression of breast cancer in vivo, RLX serum concentrations were determined in 160 breast cancer patients during post-surgical follow-up. RLX concentrations in cancer patients were significantly higher than in a control population of healthy blood donors and patients with various other diseases (0.47 versus 0.29 ng/ml, p < 0.0001). There was a significant difference between patients with metastases (0.62 ng/ml) and those without (0.38 ng/ml, p < 0.0001). Overall survival was shorter in RLX-positive (>0.4 ng/ml) than in RLX-negative patients (p = 0.016). Cox regression analysis showed that RLX was not an independent variable, in contrast to metastatic disease and primary lymph node involvement. Taken together, the detection of elevated RLX concentrations especially in patients with metastases supports the assumption that there is a role for RLX in tissue remodeling during breast cancer progression.

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