Epithelial Mesenchymal Transition (EMT) in Metastatic Breast Cancer in Omani Women
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Abstract: Breast cancer (BC) in Oman affects younger women and has a more aggressive course. Clinical and biological variables like age, pregnancy, tumor size, type, grade, receptor expression and proliferation predict disease aggression but there is no direct predictor of metastasis except lymphovascular invasion. Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is characterized by epithelial cells losing epithelial and acquiring mesenchymal morphoimmunophenotypic characteristics. In tumors, EMT-like transitions may signify a metastatic phenotype and have features in common with cancer stem cells (CSC) which show resistance to chemotherapy. This study aimed to identify EMT and CSC phenotypes in metastatic and non-metastatic breast cancer in Omani women and their association with conventional clinicopathological predictors of BC. In a retrospective study of ninetysix Omani women with breast cancer, the association of age, pregnancy/ lactation, tumor size, type, grade, ductal carcinoma insitu (DCIS), lymphovascular invasion, hormone/ HER2 receptor expression and Ki67 proliferation index (Ki67 PI) was tested with EMT/ CSC phenotype and metastasis. Young age ≤ 40 years, lymphovascular invasion and EMT had a strong association with metastasis; CSC approached significance. Vimentin expression in tumor cells, fibronectin and MMP-11 in stroma were reliable markers of EMT; dual EMT and CSC phenotype (Vim+/ CD44+/ CD 24−/low) had a strong association with apocrine variant, basal-like tumors and triple negative cancers. EMT had a strong associationwithKi67 proliferation index (PI) and CSC with HER2-like tumors and distant metastasis. These select markers may be useful in metastasis-prediction in pre-treatment biopsies.
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