Our aim was to study the expression pattern of tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases (TIMP)-3 protein in invasive breast carcinoma, and its clinicopathological and prognostic value as well as its relation to markers indicative of the tumor phenotype.
Immunohistochemistry was performed on paraffin-embedded tissue specimens from 173 invasive breast carcinomas to detect the proteins TIMP-3, estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor, p53, c-erbB-2, topoisomerase IIα and Bcl-2.
TIMP-3 protein was immunodetected in the cytoplasm of the malignant cells and the peritumoral stroma, as well as in in situ carcinoma and normal epithelium. Reduced expression of TIMP-3 protein within cancer cells was correlated with carcinomas of high nuclear and histological grade (p = 0.032 and p = 0.015, respectively), and low ER expression (p = 0.053). Moreover, TIMP-3 immunopositivity was inversely correlated with the expression of p53 and topoIIα proteins (p = 0.002 and p = 0.008, respectively), whereas it was positively associated with Bcl-2 expression (p = 0.020). Reduced expression of TIMP-3 protein within cancer cells was found to have an unfavorable impact on disease-free survival (p = 0.052) in the entirety of the patient population, as well as in both subgroups of lymph-node-positive and mutant-p53-negative patients (p = 0.007 and p = 0.037, respectively). Stromal localization of TIMP-3 protein was found to have no clinicopathological or prognostic value.
This is the first immunohistochemical study to show that TIMP-3 protein within cancer cells is associated with tumor phenotype. Reduced expression of TIMP-3 protein within cancer cells was found to correlate with an aggressive tumor phenotype, negatively affecting the disease-free survival of both subgroups of lymph node-positive and mutant-p53-negative patients.