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Int J Biol Markers. 2004 Apr-Jun;19(2):109-14.

MUC3 and MCA serum levels and steroid receptor content in breast cancer.

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  • 1Chemical-Clinical-Microbiology and Immunology Laboratory Unit, Department of Experimental Oncology, National Oncology Institute, Bari, Italy.


Mucins are an important class of complex glycoproteins expressed by many epithelial cells and their malignant counterparts. The aim of this study was to determine the serum levels of MUC3 and mucin-like carcinoma-associated antigen (MCA) in patients with primary breast cancer and to analyze the possible relationships between these two mucins and the steroid receptor status. The preoperative basal serum levels of MUC3 (ELISA assay with monoclonal antibody 1143/B7) and MCA (EIA assay with anti-MCA mouse monoclonal antibody b-12) were determined in 44 patients with breast cancer while estrogen receptor (ER) and progesterone receptor (PgR) levels were measured by the dextran-coated charcoal method in the cytosol of neoplastic tissue. MUC3 was expressed in 43/44 serum samples while high MCA serum levels were found in 16/44 only; the mean values of both markers did not correlate with menopausal status, tumor size, nodal involvement or ER. The only significant difference observed was a lower median value of MCA in patients with small tumors (T1-T2). No statistically significant correlation between MUC3 and MCA, MUC3 and ER or MCA and ER was observed; a statistically significant direct correlation between MUC3 and PgR+ status and a statistically significant inverse correlation between MCA and PgR+ were observed. Our results suggest that further investigations are necessary to establish whether progesterone can modulate MUC3 and MCA expression in breast cancer.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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