Although high mammographic density (MD) is considered one of the strongest risk factors for invasive breast cancer, the genes involved in modulating this clinical feature are unknown. Tissues of high MD share key histological features with stromal components within malignant lesions of tumor tissues, specifically low adipocyte and high ECM content. We show that CD36, a transmembrane receptor that coordinately modulates multiple pro-tumorigenic phenotypes including adipocyte differentiation, angiogenesis, cell-ECM interactions, and immune signaling, is greatly repressed in multiple cell types of disease-free stroma associated with high MD and tumor stroma. Using both in vitro and in vivo assays, we demonstrate that CD36 repression is necessary and sufficient to recapitulate the abovementioned phenotypes observed in high MD and tumor tissues. Consistent with a functional role for this coordinated program in tumorigenesis, we observe that clinical outcomes are strongly associated with CD36 expression.
- Received March 12, 2012.
- Revision received June 28, 2012.
- Accepted July 2, 2012.
- Copyright © 2012, American Association for Cancer Research.