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Association of Fascin and matrix metalloproteinase-9 expression with poor prognostic parameters in breast carcinoma of Egyptian women

Nermeen Salah Youssef* and Sarah Adel Hakim

Author Affiliations

Department of Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, Ain Shams University, Abbasseya square, Cairo, Egypt

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Diagnostic Pathology 2014, 9:136  doi:10.1186/1746-1596-9-136

Published: 4 July 2014



The effects of fascin on cell invasiveness involve changes in cell motility and matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) activity. Previous studies on the prognostic value of fascin and MMP-9 in breast carcinoma revealed conflicting results. To date, no immunohistochemical studies have been performed to assess the possible association between them in breast carcinoma. This study is designed to correlate their expression with prognostic parameters in breast carcinoma and assess the relationship between them.


Immunohistochemical expression of fascin and MMP-9 was evaluated semi quantitatively in 67 cases of breast carcinoma regarding the percentage of positive cells. Chi square test and Fisher’s exact test were used to examine the relationship between categorical variables. Kappa statistics was used to compute the measure of agreement between two investigational methods.


Fascin and MMP-9 expressions were detected in 43.28% and 50.75% of breast carcinomas (respectively). Regarding the normal breast tissue, fascin expression was observed in myoepithelial cells and luminal cells of few ducts and acini. However, normal tissue showed negative MMP-9 expression. A significant relationship was observed between fascin and MMP-9 expression and lymph node metastases (p = 0.001 and 0.002 respectively), advanced tumor stage (p = 0.004 and 0.005 respectively), estrogen receptor negative (p = 0.002 and 0.005 respectively), progesterone receptor negative (p = 0.001 and 0.003 respectively) hormonal status and molecular subtypes (p = 0.0007 and 0.014 respectively). A significant strong agreement was detected between fascin and MMP-9 expression (p = 0.0001). More intense immunostaining of fascin and MMP-9 was observed at the invasive fronts compared with other areas of the tumor. Moreover, a significant moderate agreement between fascin and MMP-9 was found regarding the site of predominant intensity.


Fascin and MMP-9 proteins are associated with parameters of poor prognosis in breast cancer. The significant strong agreement between the two markers supports the role of fascin in cell invasiveness by activating matrix proteases besides increasing cell motility. Both proteins may represent potential therapeutic targets for patients with breast cancer especially those with hormone receptor–negative status.

The virtual slide(s) for this article can be found here: webcite.

Breast carcinoma; MMP-9; Fascin; Immunohistochemistry