Aggressive breast cancer in western Kenya has early onset, high proliferation, and immune cell infiltration

Rispah T. Sawe, Maggie Kerper, Sunil Badve, Jun Li, Mayra Sandoval-Cooper, Jingmeng Xie, Zonggao Shi, Kirtika Patel, David Chumba, Ayub Ofulla, Jenifer Prosperi, Katherine Taylor, M. Sharon Stack, Simeon Mining, Laurie E. Littlepage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Scopus citations


Background: Breast cancer incidence and mortality vary significantly among different nations and racial groups. African nations have the highest breast cancer mortality rates in the world, even though the incidence rates are below those of many nations. Differences in disease progression suggest that aggressive breast tumors may harbor a unique molecular signature to promote disease progression. However, few studies have investigated the pathology and clinical markers expressed in breast tissue from regional African patient populations. Methods: We collected 68 malignant and 89 non-cancerous samples from Kenyan breast tissue. To characterize the tumors from these patients, we constructed tissue microarrays (TMAs) from these tissues. Sections from these TMAs were stained and analyzed using immunohistochemistry to detect clinical breast cancer markers, including estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR), human epidermal growth factor 2 receptor (HER2) status, Ki67, and immune cell markers. Results: Thirty-three percent of the tumors were triple negative (ER-, PR-, HER2-), 59 % were ER+, and almost all tumors analyzed were HER2-. Seven percent of the breast cancer patients were male, and 30 % were <40 years old at diagnosis. Cancer tissue had increased immune cell infiltration with recruitment of CD163+ (M2 macrophage), CD25+ (regulatory T lymphocyte), and CD4+ (T helper) cells compared to non-cancer tissue. Conclusions: We identified clinical biomarkers that may assist in identifying therapy strategies for breast cancer patients in western Kenya. Estrogen receptor status in particular should lead initial treatment strategies in these breast cancer patients. Increased CD25 expression suggests a need for additional treatment strategies designed to overcome immune suppression by CD25+ cells in order to promote the antitumor activity of CD8+ cytotoxic T cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number204
JournalBMC Cancer
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 10 2016


  • Breast cancer
  • CD163
  • CD25
  • Estrogen receptor
  • Kenya

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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    Sawe, R. T., Kerper, M., Badve, S., Li, J., Sandoval-Cooper, M., Xie, J., Shi, Z., Patel, K., Chumba, D., Ofulla, A., Prosperi, J., Taylor, K., Stack, M. S., Mining, S., & Littlepage, L. E. (2016). Aggressive breast cancer in western Kenya has early onset, high proliferation, and immune cell infiltration. BMC Cancer, 16(1), [204].