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Lab Invest. 1999 Oct;79(10):1215-25.

Nitric oxide synthase in human breast cancer is associated with tumor grade, proliferation rate, and expression of progesterone receptors.

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Cancer Immunotherapy Laboratory, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Faculté de Médecine, Dijon, France.


Nitric oxide (NO) is generated by a family of isoenzymes named nitric oxide synthases (NOS) which includes a cytokine-inducible form, NOSII. NO is a free radical known to inhibit cell proliferation, to induce apoptosis, and to be a mediator of macrophage cytostatic and cytotoxic effects. We investigated NOS in 40 human breast carcinomas and 8 benign breast lesions. NOSII was localized in tumor cells by immunohistochemistry. NOS activity, measured with the citrulline assay, was detected in 27 of 40 tumors. Neither immunohistologic labeling nor NOS activity was detected in benign samples. NOS labeling and activity were significantly related (p < 0.02). For the first time, a significant negative relationship between NOS activity and tumor cell proliferation (p < 0.002) was found. We also showed that tumors with high NOS activity expressed progesterone receptors (p < 0.04). These results are consistent with the observation of high NOS activity in tumors with low grade (p < 0.05). These in vivo observations were related to in vitro data: cytokines (IL-1beta, IFN-gamma, and TNF-alpha) induced NOSII expression in human MCF-7 breast cancer cells, and NO inhibited their proliferation. Thus, we show herein that tumors with high NOS activity have low proliferation rate and low grade, which correlates with the in vitro observation of the inhibition of proliferation of human breast cancer cells by NO. These results may have future therapeutic implications.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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