The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1477-7819-10-102) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
JB performed research, counted the apoptotic figures and contributed to the design and preparation of the manuscript. FA statistically analyzed the data. ME provided the samples and clinical data. AB and YC designed and coordinated the research and drafted the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
We evaluated the relationship of the apoptotic activity index (AI) and the standardized mitotic-apoptotic ratio (SMI/AI) with clinicopathological features and prognosis in Libyan female breast cancer (BC) patients. We then compared our results with corresponding results in Finnish and Nigerian female BC patients.
Histological samples of breast carcinoma from 130 patients were retrospectively studied: an estimation of the apoptotic activity per square millimeter (expressed as apoptotic activity index (AI)), and standardized mitotic-apoptotic ratio (SMI/AI) was made, and the results compared with the clinicopathological features and the patient’s survival.
There was a statistically significant correlation between the AI and most of the clinicopathological features; the strongest association was observed for clinical stage lymph node (LN) status (P = 0.005). There were also correlations between AI and histological grade (P = 0.035), large tumor size (P = 0.011) and the clinical stage (P = 0.009). There were, however, prominent AI differences between Libyan, Nigerian and Finnish populations. The mean values of AI and SMI/AI in Libyan BC patients were 12.8 apoptotic figures per square millimeter and 2.8, respectively. The Libyan AI is slightly higher than in Nigeria, but much higher than in Finland. The differences between countries are seen throughout the samples as well as being present in certain subgroups. The survival analysis indicated that short survival time was associated with high apoptotic indices values and so can identify aggressive tumors and provide significant prognostic support. The cutoff (4 and 18 apoptosis/mm2) of AI might be applied as a quantitative criterion for Libyan BC to separate the patients into good, moderate and bad prognosis groups.
The results indicated that the differences in AI among the three countries may be due to the known variation in the distribution of genetic markers in these populations. Improvement in health care and introduction of screening programs, however, could be very helpful in the Libyan population.
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