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Expression of P-cadherin, but not E-cadherin or N-cadherin, relates to pathological and functional differentiation of breast carcinomas
  1. A Kovács1,
  2. J Dhillon2,
  3. R A Walker2
  1. 1Semmelweis Hospital, Department of Pathology, Miskolc, Hungary
  2. 2Breast Cancer Research Unit, University of Leicester, Clinical Sciences, Glenfield Hospital, Groby Road, Leicester LE3 9QP, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor R A Walker
 Breast Cancer Research Unit, University of Leicester, Clinical Sciences, Glenfield Hospital, Groby Road, Leicester LE3 9QP, UK


Aims: To compare the expression of the cell adhesion molecules P-cadherin, N-cadherin, and E-cadherin in invasive and in situ breast carcinomas relative to clinicopathological features (size, node status, type, grade, and receptors) to determine whether expression patterns relate to specific tumour characteristics.

Methods: Using immunohistochemistry, 110 invasive and in situ breast carcinomas were examined for the presence, extent, and localisation of all three cadherins. Findings were related to tumour size, type, grade, node status, oestrogen (ER), progesterone, and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) expression for invasive carcinomas and to grade and receptors for in situ carcinomas.

Results: P-cadherin was detected in 40% of invasive carcinomas, N-cadherin in 30%, and E-cadherin in 81%. For invasive carcinomas, the presence of P-cadherin significantly correlated with high grade, lack of ER and presence of EGFR, but not tumour size or node status. Carcinomas containing P-cadherin could be put into three categories dependent upon receptor and E-cadherin profile. There were no correlations between E/N-cadherin and size, grade, node status, or receptors. Three of 16 infiltrating lobular carcinomas expressed cytoplasmic but none membranous E-cadherin, and P-cadherin and N-cadherin were present in four carcinomas of this type. E-cadherin was found in all ductal carcinomas in situ, P-cadherin in a proportion of high grade tumours, and N-cadherin in a mixture of grades.

Conclusion: P-cadherin but not E/N-cadherin expression in breast carcinomas shows a strong correlation with higher grade (poorer differentiation), lack of ERs, and presence of EGFR, and its expression may aid in the further subdivision of high grade carcinomas.

  • breast cancer
  • P-cadherin
  • immunohistochemistry
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