Intratumor heterogeneity predicts metastasis of triplenegative breast cancer

Fang Yang, Yucai Wang, Quan Li, Lulu Cao, Zijia Sun, Juan Jin, Hehui Fang, Aiyu Zhu, Yan Li, Wenwen Zhang, Yanru Wang, Hui Xie, Jan Åke Gustafsson, Shui Wang, Xiaoxiang Guan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Even with the identical clinicopathological features, the ability for metastasis is vastly different among triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) patients. Intratumor heterogeneity (ITH), which is common in breast cancer, may be a key mechanism leading to the tumor progression. In this study, we studied whether a quantitative genetic definition of ITH can predict clinical outcomes in patients with TNBC. We quantified ITH by calculating Shannon index, a measure of diversity in a population, based on Myc, epidermal growth factor receptor/centromeric probe 7 (EGFR/CEP7) and cyclin D1/centromeric probe 11 (CCND1/CEP11) copy number variations (CNVs) in 300 cells at three different locations of a tumor. Among 75 TNBC patients, those who developed metastasis had significantly higher ITH, that is Shannon indices of EGFR/CEP7 and CCND1/CEP11 CNVs. Higher Shannon indices of EGFR/CEP7 and CCND1/CEP11 CNVs were significantly associated with the development of metastasis and were predictive of significantly worse metastasis-free survival (MFS). Regional heterogeneity, defined as the difference in copy numbers of Myc, EGFR or CCND1 at different locations, was found in 52 patients. However, the presence of regional heterogeneity did not correlate with metastasis or MFS. Our findings demonstrate that higher ITH of EGFR/CEP7 and CCND1/CEP11 CNVs is predictive of metastasis and is associated with significantly worse MFS in TNBC patients, suggesting that ITH is a very promising novel prognostic factor in TNBC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)900-909
Number of pages10
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research


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