Collective invasion in ductal and lobular breast cancer associates with distant metastasis

Clinical & Experimental Metastasis
Antoine A KhalilPeter Friedl


Breast cancer undergoes collective tissue invasion and, in experimental models, can collectively metastasize. The prevalence of collective invasion and its contribution to distant metastasis in clinical disease, however, remains poorly defined. We here scored the adipose tissue invasion of primary invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC), expressing E-cadherin, and E-cadherin negative invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC) and identified predominantly collective invasion patterns (86/86 samples) in both carcinoma types. Whereas collective invasion in IDC lesions retained adherens junctions, multicellular clusters and "Indian files" in ILC, despite the absence of adherens junctions (AJ) proteins E-cadherin and β-catenin, retained CD44 at cell-cell contacts. By histomorphological scoring and semi-automated image analysis, we show that the extent of collective invasion into the adipose tissue correlated with decreased distant metastasis-free survival (5-year follow-up; hazard ratio: 2.32 and 2.29, respectively). Thus, collective invasion represents the predominant invasion mode in breast cancer, develops distinct junctional subtypes in IDC and ILC, and associates with distant metastasis, suggesting a critical role in systemic dissemination.


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Methods Mentioned

confocal microscopy

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