HER-2/neu and urokinase-type plasminogen activator and its inhibitor in breast cancer CLINICAL CANCER RESEARCH Konecny, G., Untch, M., Arboleda, J., Wilson, C., Kahlert, S., Boettcher, B., Felber, M., Beryt, M., Lude, S., Hepp, H., Slamon, D., Pegram, M. 2001; 7 (8): 2448-2457


Recent studies suggest that HER-2/neu specifically promotes the invasive capacity of tumor cells by up-regulating secretion of the proteolytic enzyme, urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA), or its inhibitor, plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1), in colon and gastric cancer. It was the purpose of this study to: (a) evaluate the association between HER-2/neu and uPA and PAI-1 expression in a large primary breast cancer cohort; (b) perform the first multivariate analysis, including HER-2/neu, uPA, and PAI-1 in breast cancer; and (c) define the effect of HER-2/neu overexpression on uPA and PAI-1 expression in breast cancer cells.HER-2/neu, uPA, and PAI-1 were measured as continuous variables by ELISA in primary breast cancer tissue extracts from 587 patients with clinical follow-up and analyzed for correlations with clinical outcome. Furthermore, a full-length human HER-2/neu cDNA was introduced into five human breast cancer cell lines to define the effects of HER-2/neu overexpression on uPA and PAI-1 expression. In addition, we tested whether HER-2/neu antibodies could reverse any given alteration of uPA and PAI-1 levels.Our findings indicate a weak positive association between HER-2/neu and uPA (r = 0.147; P < 0.001) and no association between HER-2/neu and PAI-1 (r = 0.07; P = 0.085). HER-2/neu overexpression (> or =400 fmol/mg) and high levels of uPA/PAI-1 (> or =5.5 ng/mg and/or > or =14 ng/mg, respectively) were significantly associated with shorter disease-free survival (DFS; P < 0.001 and P = 0.003) and metastasis-free survival (MFS; P = 0.015 and P < 0.001). Multivariate analysis revealed prognostic independence between HER-2/neu and the uPA/PAI-1 axis for DFS and MFS. Both uPA and PAI-1 had no significant discriminatory effect among HER-2/neu-positive patients for DFS. The prognostic value of HER-2/neu overexpression for MFS, however, was significantly enhanced by elevated uPA expression (P = 0.053). Stable transfection of the HER-2/neu gene into multiple human breast cancer cell lines resulted in consistent down-regulation of uPA or PAI-1 expression. In addition, anti-HER-2/neu antibodies did not significantly affect uPA or PAI-1 expression in human cancer cell lines naturally overexpressing HER-2/neu.The present findings suggest that the invasive phenotype elicited by HER-2/neu overexpression in breast cancer is not a direct effect of uPA or PAI-1 expression. HER-2/neu and the uPA/PAI-1 axis have been shown to affect the invasive capacity of breast cancer independently. Determination of uPA can provide significant additional prognostic information for MFS in HER-2/neu-positive and -negative patients.

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View details for PubMedID 11489825