Breast cancer outcome is highly variable. Whether inadvertent exposure to environmental xenobiotics evokes a biological response promoting cancer aggressiveness and a higher probability of tumor recurrence remains unknown. To determine specific molecular alterations which arise in high-risk breast tissue in the presence of the ubiquitous xenoestrogen, bisphenol A (BPA), we used nonmalignant random periareolar fine-needle aspirates in a novel functional assay. Early events induced by BPA in epithelial-stromal cocultures derived from the contralateral tissue of patients with breast cancer included gene expression patterns which facilitate apoptosis evasion, endurance of microenvironmental stress, and cell cycle deregulation without a detectable increase in cell numbers. This BPA response profile was significantly associated with breast tumors characterized by high histologic grade (P < 0.001) and large tumor size (P = 0.002), resulting in decreased recurrence-free patient survival (P < 0.001). Our assays show a biological "fingerprint" of probable prior exposure to endocrine-disrupting agents, and suggest a scenario in which their presence in the microenvironmental milieu of high-risk breast tissue could play a deterministic role in establishing and maintaining tumor aggressiveness and poor patient outcome.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research