Triple negative breast cancer: From molecular portrait to therapeutic intervention

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Triple negative breast cancer is a subtype of breast cancer that lacks expression of an estrogen receptor (ER), a progesterone receptor (PR), and HER2. It is characterized by its unique molecular profile, aggressive behavior, and distinct pattern of metastasis. Epidemiological studies show a high prevalence of triple negative breast cancer among younger women and those of African descent. Although sensitive to chemotherapy, early relapse is common, and a predilection for visceral metastasis, including brain metastasis, has been described. Gene-expression profiling approaches demonstrated that triple negative breast cancer is a heterogeneous group of diseases composed of different, molecularly distinct subtypes. Although not synonymous, the majority of triple negative breast cancers carry the "basal-like" molecular profile on gene-expression arrays. However, several studies have shown that triple negative breast cancer includes tumors with a non-basal expression profile and, in particular, the "normal-breast," the "multiple marker negative," and the recently identified "claudin-negative" subtypes. Target-based agents, including epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and poly-ADP-ribose polymerase (PARP) inhibitors, are currently in clinical trials and hold promise in the treatment of this aggressive disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-34
Number of pages18
JournalCritical Reviews in Eukaryotic Gene Expression
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • Breast cancer
  • Gene expression
  • Molecular portrait
  • Target therapy
  • Triple negative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology

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