Previous studies have found an association between elevated circulating prolactin levels and increased risk of breast cancer. Prolactin stimulates breast cancer cell proliferation, migration, and survival via binding to the cell-surface prolactin receptor. The association of prolactin receptor expression with breast tumorigenesis remains unclear as studies that have focused on this association have had limited sample size and/or information about tumor characteristics. Here, we examined the association of prolactin expression with tumor characteristics among 736 cases, from a large population-based case-control study of breast cancer conducted in Poland (2000-2003), with detailed risk factor and pathology data. Tumors were centrally reviewed and prepared as tissue microarrays for immunohistochemical analysis of prolactin receptor expression. Association of prolactin receptor expression across strata of tumor characteristics was evaluated using χ2 analysis and logistic regression. Prolactin receptor expression did not vary by menopausal status; therefore, data from pre- and post-menopausal women were combined in the analyses. Approximately 83 % of breast cancers were categorized as strong prolactin receptor staining. Negative/low prolactin receptor expression was independently associated with poorly differentiated (p = 1.2 × 10-08) and larger tumors (p = 0.0005). These associations were independent of estrogen receptor expression. This is the largest study to date in which the association of prolactin receptor expression with tumor characteristics has been evaluated. These data provide new avenues from which to explore the associations of the prolactin/prolactin receptor signaling network with breast tumorigenesis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
- Cancer Research