Expression of the hepatocyte growth factor/c-Met pathway is increased at the cancer front in breast carcinoma

Authors


Correspondence: Genichiro Edakuni MD Department of Pathology, Saga Medical School, Nabeshima 5-1-1, Saga, Japan. Email: g9604@post.saga-med.ac.jp

Abstract

Expression of hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) and c-Met (HGF receptor) has been reported in many neoplasms. We investigated coexpression of HGF and c-Met to determine the role of the HGF/c-Met pathway in breast carcinoma, especially at the cancer front. Eighty-eight cases of carcinoma of the breast were studied by immunohistochemistry and by in situ hybridization for HGF and c-Met expression. The staining pattern was termed ‘front accentuation pattern’ when it was most conspicuous at the cancer front. HGF and c-Met proteins were expressed in cancer and stromal cells, with autocrine and paracrine patterns. The front accentuation pattern of c-Met was observed in cancer cells, but not in stromal cells. The front accentuation pattern was not observed in HGF. Coexpression of HGF and c-Met at the cancer front was correlated with histologic grade, reduced patient survival and a high Ki-67 labeling index. Our findings suggest that the HGF/c-Met pathway acts primarily as a mitogen, especially at the cancer front, in a paracrine manner and affects some clinical factors, including patient survival.

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