Introduction: Breast cancer is, by far, the most frequent cancer among women. Local and systemic factors have been shown to drive growth in breast cancer cells. There is increasing evidence that hormone ghrelin, known for the growth hormone releasing effect and food intake modulator, may also influence cancer growth. Ghrelin has been shown to be produced by some tumor cells, including breast cancer cells.
Objective: To analyze ghrelin expression in correlation with current imunohistochemical prognostic factors in breast carcinomas.
Patients and methods: Tissue samples from 30 patients with invasive breast cancer which underwent breast surgery between 2015 and 2016, were selected in the Department of Pathology. Patient characteristics including age at surgery, tumor size, grade, expression of hormone receptors, HER2 and Ki67-index were collected. For immunohistochemical staining anti-ghrelin antibodies (Bioss Antibodies, MA, USA) were used. Samples were examined by two independent observers and graded as non-immunoreactive, weak, moderate and strong. Normal human gastric mucosa was used as positive control.
Results: Mean age at surgery was 62.7±14 years (between 36 and 83 years). Ghrelin intensity score was evaluated negative in 2 cases (6.7%), weak in 11 cases (36.7%), moderate in 14 cases (46.7%), and strong in 3 cases (10%). Ghrelin negatively correlated with Ki67-index (r=−0.553, P=0.002) and with the Elston-Ellis score (r=−0.469, P=0.009), especially with the tubular differentiation (r=−0.493, P=0.006). Expression of estrogen receptors (r=0.481, P=0.008) and progesterone receptors (r=0.525, P=0.003) was positively correlated with ghrelin expression.
Conclusion: The negative correlation to Ki67 and Elston-Ellis score indicate that ghrelin may be a marker for less aggressive tumors and possibly for a better prognosis. Obesity is associated with a poorer prognosis in breast cancer. Since ghrelin is an appetite stimulating peptide, and is almost always decreased in obesity, further studies regarding the possible relationship between ghrelin, obesity and breast cancer would be of interest.
18 - 21 May 2019
European Society of Endocrinology