Survivin, a novel inhibitor of apoptosis, is one of the most cancer-specific proteins identified to date. In this study we (a) evaluated the association between survivin and HER2, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and uPA/PAI-1 expression and (b) defined its effect on clinical outcome in a large breast cancer patient cohort. Survivin expression was measured by ELISA in primary breast cancer tissue extracts from 420 patients with long-term clinical follow-up. Survivin was detected in 378 (90%) of the 420 primary breast cancer cases. Increased survivin levels were significantly associated with high nuclear grade (P < 0.0001), negative hormone receptor status (P = 0.0028), HER2 overexpression (P = 0.0094), VEGF expression (P < 0.0001), high uPA (P = 0.0002) and PAI-1 levels (P = 0.0002). Using the 25th percentile (1.4 ng/mg) as a cut-off point, patients expressing elevated survivin had a significantly worse disease-free survival (DFS: P = 0.0007, RR 1.97) and overall survival (OS: P = 0.0009, RR 2.11) compared with patients expressing lower levels of survivin. In multivariate analysis, this prognostic value of survivin was independent of both traditional and novel clinicopathologic factors for both DFS (P = 0.0076, RR 1.72) and OS (P = 0.0155, RR 1.76). The independent prognostic relevance of survivin, when combined with previous data from model systems implicating survivin in the inhibition of apoptosis, suggests that survivin may be a suitable target for future therapeutic strategies.
University College Dublin ->