To investigate the possible role of steroid hormones in the pathogenesis of myofibroblastoma (MFB) of the breast, we analysed the immunohistochemical expression of oestrogen, progesterone, androgen receptors, their regulated proteins and bcl-2 protein in a series of this rare tumour.
Methods and results
Paraffin-embedded sections from seven cases of MFB of the breast (five male; two female) were immunohistochemically tested for the expression of oestrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR), androgen receptor (AR), oestrogen-regulated pS2 protein, androgen-regulated prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and bcl-2 protein. Rare cases of benign spindle cell tumours or tumour-like lesions of the breast (primitive fibromatosis, inflammatory pseudotumour, muscular hamartoma) which enter into the differential diagnosis with MFB, were also investigated and compared with MFB. All cases of MFB showed a diffuse (70–90% of neoplastic cells) and strong nuclear labelling with ER and PR, whereas AR was expressed only in three cases (two men and one woman) in about 60–70% of cells. Conversely, no immunostaining was detected for the pS2 protein and PSA. bcl-2 protein immunoreactivity was found in all cases of MFB, although with a variable degree of expression. No expression for steroid hormone receptors, their regulated-proteins and bcl-2 protein was observed in the rare benign spindle cell lesions of the breast included in this study.
The in-situ detection of ER, PR and AR suggests that steroid hormones and their receptors are implicated in the pathogenesis of breast MFB. The consistent demonstration of bcl-2 protein, associated with a positive ER/PR status, provides evidence that bcl-2 may be an oestrogen-regulated protein also in MFB and that probably plays a role in the tumorigenesis. Finally, we postulate that the ER/PR and bcl-2 positive immunoprofile of MFB of the breast, in contrast to the negative profile of other rare primitive benign spindle cell lesions of the breast herein studied, might be exploited as an ancillary diagnostic aid in differential diagnosis of doubtful cases.