Regulation of hepatocyte growth factor activator inhibitor 2 by hypoxia in breast cancer.
Generali D., Fox SB., Berruti A., Moore JW., Brizzi MP., Patel N., Allevi G., Bonardi S., Aguggini S., Bersiga A., Campo L., Dogliotti L., Bottini A., Harris AL.
PURPOSE: To examine the in vitro regulation of hepatocyte growth factor activator inhibitor type 2 (HAI-2) in breast cancer cells and the in vivo predictive role for the efficacy of chemoendocrine primary therapy in patients with breast cancer. MATERIALS AND METHODS: HAI-2 regulation was studied in a panel of breast cancer cell lines comparing normoxia to hypoxia. The effect of HIF-1alpha RNAi on HAI-2 expression was evaluated in these cells. HAI-2 was examined in breast cancer using in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry. The HAI-2 predictive role was assessed in T(2-4) N(0-1) breast cancers (n = 177) enrolled in a neoadjuvant randomized trial comparing epirubicin versus epirubicin + tamoxifen. RESULTS: HAI-2 mRNA and protein were regulated by hypoxia in the c-erbB2-positive cell lines, SKBR3 and BT474, and controlled by HIF-1alpha in these cells. Immunohistochemistry confirmed this profile with high expression of HAI-2 in c-erbB2-positive breast cancer. HAI-2 was correlated with T status (P < 0.004), node involvement (P = 0.01), and c-erbB2 expression (P = 0.05). HAI-2 also correlated with hypoxia markers such as carbonic anhydrase IX expression (P = 0.01) and HIF-1alpha. Additionally, high levels of HAI-2 were a significant predictor for poor clinical complete response to preoperative epirubicin in univariate (P = 0.01) and multivariate analyses (P = 0.016). No correlation with disease-free survival and survival was observed. CONCLUSION: HAI-2 expression in breast cancer correlated with tumor aggressiveness in vivo. It is a HIF target in c-erbB2-positive cells and it is an independent negative predictive factor of efficacy of anthracycline therapy. The interaction of HAI-2 with the hepatocyte growth factor activation pathway may be a useful site for therapeutic intervention.