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Associations of epithelial c-kit expression in phyllodes tumours of the breast


Background Mammary phyllodes tumours (PT) are rare biphasic neoplasms but have important clinical significance. Both epithelial and stromal components participate in PT development. Despite a number of studies on stromal c-kit in PT, little is known about the role of its epithelial expression.

Objective To further evaluate the stromal and epithelial expression of c-kit in a cohort of patients with PT.

Method and results Expression of c-kit in both epithelial and stromal components was examined and correlated with histological features in PT. Stromal c-kit expression was associated positively with stromal cellularity (median expression=10.0, 30.0 and 50.0 from mild to severe cellularity; p=0.019). Conversely, a significant negative trend between epithelial c-kit expression with stromal pleomorphism (median expression=55.0, 30.0 and 2.5 from mild to severe pleomorphism; p=0.043) and mitosis (median expression=70.0 and 20.0 for low and high mitosis respectively; p=0.003); and a trend of negative correlation with increased PT grade was found. Despite these reverse associations, epithelial and stromal c-kit expressions were positively correlated with each other. Notably, the correlation of stromal c-kit expression with malignant histological features appeared to be stronger in cases with low epithelial c-kit expression but not in those with high epithelial c-kit expression.

Conclusions This study demonstrated the association of epithelial c-kit expression with stromal histological features and stromal c-kit. Interestingly, epithelial c-kit expression affected the strength of the correlation of stromal c-kit with these histological features. These findings provide further evidence of the interaction between the epithelial and stromal components in PT.

  • c-kit expression

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