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Hum Pathol. 2003 Nov;34(11):1148-54.

Expression of PC-cell-derived growth factor in benign and malignant human breast epithelium.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy and Program in Oncology, Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center of the University of Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.


PC-cell-derived growth factor (PCDGF, progranulin) is a novel autocrine growth factor that is overexpressed in human breast cancer cell lines. We have examined immunohistochemical PCDGF expression in 206 paraffin-embedded human breast lesions and investigated its association with clinicopathological variables. PCDGF staining was observed in breast carcinoma, whereas it was almost always negative in benign breast epithelium. PCDGF expression was more common in invasive ductal carcinoma (80% cases positive) than in invasive lobular carcinoma (53% positive). PCDGF staining was almost never observed in lobular carcinoma in situ. Ductal carcinoma in situ expressed PCDGF in 66% of the cases, and this expression correlated strongly with nuclear grade. Similar correlation was observed between PCDGF expression and histologic grade of invasive ductal carcinoma. Average Ki-67 index of PCDGF-negative/weakly positive invasive carcinomas (30.3) was significantly lower than that of strongly PCDGF-positive tumors (48.8, P=0.01). A larger percentage of tumors that expressed PCDGF with a staining intensity of 2+ or 3+ were p53 positive (44%) than were PCDGF-negative tumors (25%), P=0.02. PCDGF expression was independent of c-erbB-2 overexpression and of ER and PR status. Our study provides the first evidence of high incidence of PCDGF expression in human breast cancer in which it correlates with clinicopathological variables such as tumor grade, proliferation index, and p53 expression. These characteristics, as well as the virtual absence of expression in benign breast tissue, suggest an important role of PCDGF in breast cancer pathogenesis and make it a potential novel target for the treatment of breast cancer.

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