FOXA1 and AR in invasive breast cancer: New findings on their co-expression and impact on prognosis in ER-positive patients

Nelson Rangel, Nicoletta Fortunati, Simona Osella-Abate, Laura Annaratone, Claudio Isella, Maria Graziella Catalano, Letizia Rinella, Jasna Metovic, Renzo Boldorini, Davide Balmativola, Pietro Ferrando, Francesca Marano, Paola Cassoni, Anna Sapino, Isabella Castellano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The role of forkhead-box A1 (FOXA1) and Androgen receptor (AR) in breast cancer (BC) has been extensively studied. However, the prognostic role of their co-expression in Estrogen receptor positive (ER+) BC has not been investigated so far. The aim of the present study was thus to assess the co-expression (protein and mRNA) of FOXA1 and AR in BC patients, in order to evaluate their prognostic impact according to ER status. Methods: Immunohistochemical expression of AR and FOXA1 was evaluated on 479 consecutive BC, with complete clinical-pathological and follow up data. Fresh-frozen tissues from 65 cases were available. The expression of AR and FOXA1 with ER was validated using mRNA analyses. Survival and Cox proportional hazard analyses were used to evaluate the relationship between FOXA1, AR and prognosis. Results: Expression of ER, AR and FOXA1 was observed in 78, 60 and 85% of cases respectively. Most AR+ cases (97%) were also FOXA1+. The level of FOXA1 mRNA positively correlated with level of both AR mRNA (r=0.8975; P<0.001) and ER mRNA (r=0.7326; P<0.001). In ER+ BC, FOXA1 was associated with a good prognosis independently of AR expression in the three subgroups analyzed (FOXA1+/AR+; FOXA1+/AR-; FOXA1-/AR-). Multivariate analyses confirmed that FOXA1 may provide more information than AR in Disease-Free Interval (DFI) of ER+ BC patients. Conclusion: Our results suggest that in BC the expression of FOXA1 is directly related to the expression of AR. Despite that, FOXA1 is found as superior predicting marker of recurrences compared to AR in ER+ BC patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article number703
JournalBMC Cancer
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 3 2018


  • Androgen receptor
  • Breast cancer
  • FOXA1
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Prognosis
  • Real-time PCR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research


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