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Br J Cancer. 2001 Jul 6;85(1):74-7.

Plasma insulin-like growth factor binding protein-3 proteolysis is increased in primary breast cancer.

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Department of Oncology, Haukelland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway.


Fasting blood samples were obtained before definitive surgery or biopsy in 128 patients referred to the department of surgery with suspected or manifest breast cancer. Insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I, IGF-II and free IGF-I were measured by radioimmunoassay/immunoradiometric assay, while IGFBP-3 proteolysis was evaluated by Western immunoblot. 12 patients had ductal carcinoma in situ benign conditions, while staging revealed metastatic disease in 15 of 16 patients with invasive cancers. IGFBP-3 proteolysis above the normal range was recorded in 19 patients with invasive cancers, but in none of the patients suffering from DCIS/benign conditions. Increased IGFBP-3 proteolysis was most frequently recorded in patients harbouring large tumours and metastatic disease (Stage I: 0/19, 0%; Stage II: 3/45, 7%, Stage III: 9/37, 24%, and Stage IV: 7/15, 47%). IGFBP-3 proteolysis was significantly higher in Stage III (P =0.01) and IV (P< 0.001) patients compared to the other stage groups (P = 0.001). IGF-I and IGF-II correlated negatively to IGFBP-3 proteolysis and age. Plasma levels of IGF-I and -II were significantly lower in patients with elevated IGFBP-3 proteolysis compared to those within the normal range. Our findings reveal alterations in the IGF-system among a substantial number of patients with large primary breast cancers.

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