Breast cancer expression of YKL-40 correlates with tumour grade, poor differentiation, and other cancer markers

Author Department

Pathology; PVLSI; Surgery

Document Type

Article, Peer-reviewed

Publication Date



BACKGROUND: Serum levels of a secreted glycoprotein YKL-40 are elevated in patients with a wide range of cancers including breast, colorectal, and ovarian cancers. Furthermore, these increased levels correlate with poorer survival of cancer patients, suggesting that serum levels of YKL-40 might be a prognostic biomarker. However, the tissue expression of YKL-40 and its relationship with clinical outcomes and other potential markers are poorly understood. METHODS: Tissue samples from invasive breast cancers, breast ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), and cancer-free reduction mammoplasty were enrolled. YKL-40 expression was measured using immunohistochemistry and evaluated by a semi-quantification assay. Statistical analyses explored the relationship of YKL-40 with clinical outcome and other breast cancer biomarkers. RESULTS: Breast ductal carcinoma in situ expressed low and moderate levels of YKL-40. In the subset of 203 patients with invasive cancer, YKL-40 levels were positively correlated with tumour grade (P<0.0001) and Her2/neu (P<0.01), but negatively correlated with oestrogen (P<0.0001) and progesterone receptor (P<0.0001). YKL-40 levels were inversely correlated with expressions of GATA3 (P=0.0137) and E-cadherin (P=0.0417). CONCLUSION: These data demonstrate that expression levels of YKL-40 are associated with tumour grade, poor differentiation, and other breast cancer markers, highlighting that tissue levels of YKL-40 serve as a valuable biomarker for breast cancer diagnosis and prognosis.