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J Pathol. 1997 Aug;182(4):421-8.

Co-expression of tenascin and fibronectin in epithelial and stromal cells of benign lesions and ductal carcinomas in the human breast.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Mie University, School of Medicine, Tsu, Japan.


Tenascin (TN)-C and fibronectin (FN), which are glycoproteins of the extracellular matrix (ECM), are up-regulated in cancer tissues, including breast cancer. For assessment of their involvement in cancer invasion, it is important to know which cells are responsible for their production and secretion. The distribution of cells expressing TN and FN mRNAs in benign and malignant human breast tissues was therefore analysed by in situ hybridization, using digoxigenin-labelled cRNA probes, in addition to demonstrating the proteins immunohistochemically. Both mRNAs were expressed in epithelial cancer as well as in stromal cells in a large fraction of the tumours, with co-expression in individual cells. In cancers with intraductal components and/or those consisting of large nests, the mRNAs were more often expressed in the cancer than in the stromal cells. In scirrhous carcinomas, in contrast, the stromal cells were almost always positive for TN and FN mRNAs, while the cancer cells only rarely exhibited TN or FN expression. In benign lesions including adenosis, fibroadenoma and intraductal papilloma, the expression patterns also varied. These findings indicate that TN and FN co-expressed by cancer cells and stromal cells are probably involved in the intraductal extension and early invasion of cancer cells and in the remodelling of cancer stroma.

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