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Int J Biol Markers. 1998 Jul-Sep;13(3):139-44.

High levels of cathepsin B predict poor outcome in patients with breast cancer.

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Department of Surgery, University College, Dublin.


Cathepsin B (CB) is a thiol-stimulated protease implicated in cancer invasion and metastasis. Other proteases involved in cancer spread such as urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) and cathepsin D have previously been shown to be prognostic markers in breast cancer. CB was assayed by ELISA in 193 patients with primary breast cancer. CB levels were significantly higher in both primary and metastatic breast tumors than in fibroadenomas (p = 0.0001). In the primary carcinomas, CB levels showed no significant correlation with either nodal status, tumor size or estrogen receptor (ER) status. Patients with primary breast cancers containing high levels of CB had a significantly shorter disease-free interval (p = 0.01, chi-square = 6.61) and overall survival (p = 0.014, chi-square = 6.08) than patients with low levels of the protease. However, in multivariate analysis, using nodal status, tumor size, ER status and urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA), CB was not an independent prognostic marker. In contrast, nodal status, ER status and uPA were prognostic in multivariate analysis. In conclusion, CB, like certain other proteases implicated in cancer metastasis, correlates with poor outcome in patients with breast cancer. These results thus support the evidence from model systems linking CB to cancer spread. Inhibition of CB expression or activity might therefore be exploited for anti-metastatic therapies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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