Differential effect of surgical manipulation on gene expression in normal breast tissue and breast tumor tissue

Inge Søkilde Pedersen, Mads Thomassen, Qihua Tan, Torben Kruse, Ole Thorlacius-Ussing, Jens Peter Garne, Henrik Bygum Krarup

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BACKGROUND: Gene expression profiles of normal and tumor tissue reflect both differences in biological processes taking place in vivo and differences in response to stress during surgery and sample handling. The effect of cold (room temperature) ischemia in the time interval between surgical removal of the specimen and freezing is described in a few studies. However, not much is known about the effect of warm (body temperature) ischemia during surgery.

METHODS: Three women with primary operable breast cancer underwent in situ biopsies from normal breast and tumor tissue prior to radical mastectomy. Ex vivo biopsies from normal and tumor tissue were collected immediately after surgical excision. The putative effects on gene expression of malignancy (tumor versus normal), surgical manipulation (post- versus pre-surgical) and interaction between the two (differences in effect of surgical manipulation on tumor and normal samples) were investigated simultaneously by Generalized Estimating Equation (GEE) analysis in this self-matched study.

RESULTS: Gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA) demonstrates a marked difference in effect of surgical manipulation on tumor compared to normal tissue. Interestingly, a large proportion of pathways affected by ischemia especially in tumor tissue are pathways considered to be specifically up regulated in tumor tissue compared to normal.

CONCLUSION: The results of this study suggest that a large contribution to this differential expression originates from altered response to stress in tumor cells rather than merely representing in vivo differences. It is important to bear this in mind when using gene-expression analysis to deduce biological function, and when collecting material for gene expression profiling.

Original languageEnglish
Article number57
JournalMolecular Medicine
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 16 Nov 2018


  • Cancer
  • Cell cycle
  • Gene expression
  • Ischemia
  • Specimen handling


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