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Clin Cancer Res. 1999 Aug;5(8):2035-41.

Prognostic value of ornithine decarboxylase and polyamines in human breast cancer: correlation with clinicopathologic parameters.

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Department of Clinical Chemistry, Hospital Virgen de la Arrixaca, Murcia, Spain.


The polyamines putrescine, spermidine, and spermine and ornithine decarboxylase (ODC), the rate-limiting enzyme in their biosynthetic pathway, play an important role in cell proliferation, differentiation, and transformation. In the present study, we have analyzed polyamine concentrations and ODC activity in samples from benign breast diseases (n = 36), benign breast tissue adjacent to the primary carcinoma (n = 19), and breast carcinoma (n = 104). ODC activity in primary carcinoma was significantly higher (2.42 +/- 0.22 nmol CO2/h g; P < 0.001) than that found in benign breast (0.62 +/- 0.15 nmol CO2/h g) or in breast tissue adjacent to the primary carcinoma (0.52 +/- 0.16 nmol CO2/h g). The total polyamine content of breast cancer tissues was higher than in benign breast diseases (704.3 +/- 38.3 nmol/g wet weight versus 295.8 +/- 27.4 nmol/g wet weight) and correlated well with ODC activity (Pearson, r = 0.42; P < 0.001). ODC activity correlated with histological grade, peritumoral lymphatic or blood vessel invasion, S-phase fraction, and cathepsin D. Total polyamine concentration increased with S-phase fraction, cathepsin D, and aneuploidy. No significant correlation was found between ODC or polyamines and tumor size, lymph node involvement, or steroid receptor status. A major finding in our study was that ODC activity was an independent prognostic factor for recurrence and death. The results indicate that the estimation of ODC activity and polyamines in human breast carcinoma might be useful to determine tumor aggressiveness and suggest that ODC may have a potential value as both a prognostic factor and a chemoprevention target in human breast cancer.

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