Thrombospondin-1 (TSP1) is a Mr 450,000 extracellular matrix glycoprotein that modulates tumor growth, angiogenesis, and metastasis. Of the five structurally different TSPs described to date, only TSP2 is similar to TSP1 in terms of its molecular architecture, and TSP2 also modulates angiogenesis. Angiogenesis plays a relevant role in the biological aggressiveness of breast cancer, and TSP1 is present in the tumor stroma (termed desmoplasia) of invasive human breast ductal carcinoma not otherwise specified (NOS). The present study was designed to identify and quantify TSP1 and TSP2 mRNAs in normal, benign, and neoplastic human breast tissues using the reverse transcriptase PCR technique. We found that TSP2, like TSP1, was expressed in human breast tissues, and that TSP1 and TSP2 mRNA expression in invasive breast carcinoma NOS was significantly increased compared to that observed in normal and benign tissues. The expression of TSP1 and TSP2 in invasive breast ductal carcinoma NOS did not significantly correlate with any of the prognostic factors studied (tumor size, lymph node status, morphology, and hormone receptor status). However, when our study population was divided according to the quantity of tumor stroma, TSP1 (and possibly TSP2) mRNA expression and microvessel counts in desmoplastic-rich stroma of breast carcinoma NOS were significantly increased compared to those observed in desmoplastic-poor stromata.

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This work was performed in collaboration with the Institut de Biologie et Chimie des Protéines (Lyon, France) and was supported by grants from the Association pour la Recherche contre le Cancer (to N. B. and L. F.), the Ligue contre le Cancer de la Drome et de l'Ardèche (to N. B), the Fédération Nationale des Groupements des Entreprises Françaises dans la Lutte contre le Cancer (to P. C.), and the Institut National de Santé et de Recherche Médicale (to P. C.).

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