High GPER expression in triple-negative breast cancer is linked to pro-metastatic pathways and predicts poor patient outcomes
"Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is a particularly aggressive and heterogeneous disease with few effective targeted therapies and precision therapeutic options over a long period. It is generally considered that TNBC is an estrogen-independent breast cancer, while a new estrogen receptor, namely G protein-coupled estrogen receptor (GPER), is demonstrated to mediate estrogenic actions in TNBC. Based on our transcriptomic analysis, expression of GPER was correlated with clinicopathological variables and survival of 360 TNBC patients. GPER expression at mRNA level was significantly correlated with immunohistochemistry scoring in 12 randomly chosen samples. According to the cutoff value, 26.4% (95/360) of patients showed high GPER expression and significant correlation with the mRNA subtype of TNBC (P = 0.001), total metastatic events (P = 0.019) and liver metastasis (P = 0.011). In quantitative comparison, GPER abundance is correlated with the high-risk subtype of TNBC. At a median follow-up interval of 67.1 months, a significant trend towards reduced distant metastasis-free survival (DMFS) (P = 0.014) was found by Kaplan–Meier analysis in patients with high GPER expression. Furthermore, univariate analysis confirmed that GPER was a significant prognostic factor for DMFS in TNBC patients. Besides, high GPER expression was significantly linked to the worse survival in patients with lymph node metastasis, TNM stage III as well as nuclear grade G3 tumors. Transcriptome-based bioinformatics analysis revealed that GPER was linked to pro-metastatic pathways in our cohort. These results may supply new insights into GPER-mediated estrogen carcinogenesis in TNBC, thus providing a potential strategy for endocrine therapy of TNBC."