Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

MicroRNA profile in very young women with breast cancer

Maria Peña-Chilet1, Maria T Martínez1, Jose A Pérez-Fidalgo1, Lorena Peiró-Chova2, Sara S Oltra1, Eduardo Tormo1, Elisa Alonso-Yuste3, Beatriz Martinez-Delgado4, Pilar Eroles1, Joan Climent1, Octavio Burgués3, Jaime Ferrer-Lozano23, Ana Bosch15, Ana Lluch1 and Gloria Ribas1*

Author Affiliations

1 Medical Oncology and Hematology Unit, INCLIVA Biomedical Research Institute, Av. Blasco Ibañez, 17, Valencia 46010, Spain

2 Biobank, INCLIVA Biomedical Research Institute, Av. Blasco Ibañez, 17, Valencia, Spain

3 Pathology Unit, INCLIVA Biomedical Research Institute, Av. Blasco Ibañez 17, Valencia, Spain

4 Laboratory rare diseases, ISCIII, Sinesio Delgado, 4, Madrid, Spain

5 Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, 417 E. 68th St, New York, NY 10065, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Cancer 2014, 14:529  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-529

Published: 21 July 2014



Breast cancer is rarely diagnosed in very young women (35years old or younger), and it often presents with distinct clinical-pathological features related to a more aggressive phenotype and worse prognosis when diagnosed at this early age. A pending question is whether breast cancer in very young women arises from the deregulation of different underlying mechanisms, something that will make this disease an entity differentiated from breast cancer diagnosed in older patients.


We performed a comprehensive study of miRNA expression using miRNA Affymetrix2.0 array on paraffin-embedded tumour tissue of 42 breast cancer patients 35 years old or younger, 17 patients between 45 and 65 years old and 29 older than 65 years. Data were statistically analyzed by t-test and a hierarchical clustering via average linkage method was conducted. Results were validated by qRT-PCR. Putative targeted pathways were obtained using DIANA miRPath online software.


The results show a differential and unique miRNA expression profile of 121 miRNAs (p-value <0.05), 96 of those with a FDR-value <0.05. Hierarchical clustering grouped the samples according to their age, but not by subtype nor by tumour characteristics. We were able to validate by qRT-PCR differences in the expression of 6 miRNAs: miR-1228*, miR-3196, miR-1275, miR-92b, miR-139 and miR-1207. Moreover, all of the miRNAs maintained the expression trend. The validated miRNAs pointed out pathways related to cell motility, invasion and proliferation.


The study suggests that breast cancer in very young women appears as a distinct molecular signature. To our knowledge, this is the first time that a validated microRNA profile, distinctive to breast cancer in very young women, has been presented. The miRNA signature may be relevant to open an important field of research in order to elucidate the underlying mechanism in this particular disease, which in a more clinical setting, could potentially help to identify therapeutic targets in this particular set of patients.

Breast cancer; Young women; miRNA; Molecular profile