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Human sodium iodide symporter (hNIS) gene over-expression is under active consideration worldwide as an alternative target molecule for breast cancer (BC) diagnosis and targeted radio-iodine treatment. However, the field demands better stratified analysis of endogenous hNIS expression across major BC subtypes. Therefore, we have analyzed subtype-specific variation of hNIS overexpression in breast tumor tissue samples by immunohistochemistry (IHC) and also report the development of a homogeneous, quantitative analysis method of digital IHC images. hNIS expression was analyzed from 108 BC tissue samples by IHC. Sub-cellular localization of hNIS protein was analyzed by dual immunofluorescence (IF) staining method using hNIS and HER2 antibodies. An ImageJ based two-step digital analysis method was developed and applied for the bias-free analysis of the images. Staining of the tumor samples show 70% cases are hNIS positive indicating high incidence of hNIS positive cases in BC. More importantly, a subtype specific analysis done for the first time shows that hNIS expression is overly dominated in estrogen receptor (ER) positive cases than the receptor negative cases. Further, 56% of the ER+ve, PgR+ve, HER2-ve and 36% of ER+ve, PgR+ve, HER2+ve cases show highest intensity staining equivalent to the thyroid tissue. A significant positive correlation is also observed between hNIS and estrogen receptor expression (p = 0.0033, CI = 95%) suggesting hNIS mediated targeted radio-iodine therapy procedures may benefit both ER+ve, PgR+ve, HER2-ve as well as HER2+ve cases. Further, in a few cases, hNIS and HER2 protein localization is demonstrated by overlapping membrane co-expression. ImageJ based image analysis method shows over 70% match with manual pathological scoring method. The study indicates a positive link between hNIS and ER expression in BC. The quantitative IHC image analysis method reported here will further help in patient stratification and potentially benefit global clinical assessment where hNIS mediated targeted ¹³¹I radio-ablative therapy is aimed.


Sushmita Chatterjee, Renu Malhotra, Frency Varghese, Amirali B Bukhari, Asawari Patil, Ashwini Budrukkar, Vani Parmar, Sudeep Gupta, Abhijit De. Quantitative immunohistochemical analysis reveals association between sodium iodide symporter and estrogen receptor expression in breast cancer. PloS one. 2013;8(1):e54055

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PMID: 23342072

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