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Open Access Research article

Feline mammary basal-like adenocarcinomas: a potential model for human triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) with basal-like subtype

David A Wiese1, Tuddow Thaiwong23, Vilma Yuzbasiyan-Gurkan3 and Matti Kiupel234*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pathology, McLaren Regional Medical Center, Flint, MI, USA

2 Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA

3 Comparative Medicine and Integrative Biology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA

4 Department of Pathobiology and Diagnostic Investigation, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA

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BMC Cancer 2013, 13:403  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-13-403

Published: 3 September 2013

Abstract

Background

Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths. Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), an immunophenotype defined by the absence of immunolabeling for estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR) and HER2 protein, has a highly aggressive behavior. A subpopulation of TNBCs exhibit a basal-like morphology with immunohistochemical positivity for cytokeratins 5/6 (CK5/6) and/or epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), and have a high incidence of BRCA (breast cancer susceptibility) mutations. Feline mammary adenocarcinomas (FMAs) are highly malignant and share a similar basal-like subtype. The purpose of this study was to classify FMAs according to the current human classification of breast cancer that includes evaluation of ER, PR and HER2 status and expression of basal CK 5/6 and EGFR. Furthermore, we selected triple negative, basal-like FMAs to screen for BRCA mutations similar to those described in human TNBC.

Methods

Twenty four FMAs were classified according to the current human histologic breast cancer classification including immunohistochemistry (IHC) for ER, PR HER2, CK5/6 and EGFR. Genetic alteration and loss of heterozygosity of BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes were analyzed in triple negative, basal-like FMAs.

Results

IHC for ER, PR and HER2 identified 14 of the 24 (58%) FMAs as a triple negative. Furthermore, 11of these 14 (79%) triple negative FMAs had a basal-like subtype. However, no genetic abnormalities were detected in BRCA1 and BRCA2 by direct sequencing and loss of heterozygosity analysis.

Conclusion

FMAs are highly aggressive neoplasms that are commonly triple negative and exhibit a basal-like morphology. This is similar to human TNBC that are also commonly classified as a basal-like subtype. While sequencing of a select number of triple negative, basal-like FMAs and testing for loss of heterozygosity of BRCA1 and BRCA2 did not identify mutations similar to those described in human TNBC, further in-depth evaluation is required to elucidate a potential role of BRCA in the tumorigenesis of triple negative, basal-like FMAs. The strong similarities in clinical behavior, morphology and IHC phenotype suggest that triple negative, basal-like FMAs may be a suitable spontaneous animal model for studying novel therapeutic approaches against human basal-like TNBC.

Keywords:
Basal phenotype; BRCA; Feline; Mammary adenocarcinoma; Triple negative