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Br J Cancer. 1999 Apr;80(1-2):286-94.

Prognostic value of tissue-type plasminogen activator (tPA) and its complex with the type-1 inhibitor (PAI-1) in breast cancer.

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Department of Chemical Endocrinology, University Hospital Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


The prognostic value of tissue-type plasminogen activator (tPA) measured in samples derived from 865 patients with primary breast cancer using a recently developed enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was evaluated. Since the assay could easily be adapted to the assessment of the complex of tPA with its type-1 inhibitor (PAI-1), it was investigated whether the tPA:PAI-1 complex also provides prognostic information. To this end, cytosolic extracts and corresponding detergent extracts of 100,000 g pellets obtained after ultracentrifugation when preparing the cytosolic fractions for routine steroid hormone receptor determination were assayed. Statistically significant correlations were found between the cytosolic levels and those determined in the pellet extracts (Spearman correlation coefficient r(s) = 0.75, P < 0.001 for tPA and r = 0.50, P < 0.001 for tPA:PAI-1 complex). In both Cox univariate and multivariate analysis elevated levels of (total) tPA determined in the pellet extracts, but not in cytosols, were associated with prolonged relapse-free (RFS) and overall survival (OS). In contrast, high levels of the tPA:PAI-1 complex measured in cytosols, but not in the pellet extracts, were associated with a poor RFS and OS. The prognostic information provided by the cytosolic tPA:PAI-1 complex was comparable to that provided by cytosolic (total) PAI-1. Furthermore, the estimated levels of free, uncomplexed tPA and PAI-1, in cytosols and in pellet extracts, were related to patient prognosis in a similar way as the (total) levels of tPA and PAI-1 respectively. Determination of specific forms of components of the plasminogen activation system, i.e. tPA:PAI-1 complex and free, uncomplexed tPA and/or PAI-1, may be considered a useful adjunct to the analyses of the separate components (tPA and/or PAI-1) and provide valuable additional prognostic information with respect to survival of breast cancer patients.

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