Dysregulated expression of Slug, vimentin, and E-cadherin correlates with poor clinical outcome in patients with basal-like breast cancer

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Background:Among the different types of breast cancer, basal-like breast cancer (BLBC) has an extremely poor prognosis due to its high rate of recurrence and metastasis. The present study aimed to investigate the correlation between the expression of Slug, E-cadherin, and vimentin, and the clinicopathological characteristics and prognosis of patients with BLBC. We further inferred from these findings whether Slug leads to a poor prognosis in patients with BLBC through epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT).Methods:Immunohistochemistry was performed for 441 patients with breast cancer to determine the expression levels of Slug, E-cadherin, and vimentin. The correlation between protein expression and clinicopathological characteristics of patients with BLBC was evaluated, and these patients were followed up to determine survival rate.Results:High Slug and low E-cadherin expression in BLBC patients closely correlated with histological grade, lymph node metastasis, tumor-node-metastasis (TNM) stage, and lymphatic vessel metastasis. Survival analysis revealed that the poor prognosis of BLBC is associated with TNM stage, high Slug and vimentin expression, and low E-cadherin levels.Conclusions:High Slug expression is closely correlated with poor prognosis in patients with BLBC. We speculate that this may be attributed to the involvement of Slug in the EMT of BLBC. J. Surg. Oncol. 2013;107:188–194. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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