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J Transl Med. 2004 Dec 21;2(1):45.

CD28 expression in sentinel node biopsies from breast cancer patients in comparison with CD3-zeta chain expression.

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Department of Surgery, Central Hospital, SE-72189 Västerås, Sweden.



Immunosuppression is documented in several malignant diseases, including breast cancer. Subsequently, future therapeutic concepts might include immunological approaches. However, detailed knowledge about tumor immunogenicity and host immunoreactivity, and how to assess these adequately, is still limited. We studied CD28 and CD3-zeta expression in sentinel node biopsies (SNB) from breast cancer patients to analyze tumor-related changes in T cell activity.


25 women underwent surgery for primary breast cancer, including SNB. Frozen sections from 21 sentinel nodes could be analyzed with a double-staining technique. CD28 expression was studied in CD4+ and CD8+ T-lymphocyte subsets and compared with CD3-zeta expression in three specified nodal regions.


The degree of CD28 expression varied between the different lymph node areas. The lowest degree of CD28 expression was observed in CD4+ T-lymphocytes in the paracortex and germinal centers. Here, a good agreement with CD3-zeta expression was found. A higher CD28 expression was noted in CD4+ T-cells in the primary follicles, where concordance with CD3-zeta expression was weaker. The CD8+ T-lymphocyte subset displayed generally a higher degree of CD28 expression than the CD4+ subset.


Sentinel lymph nodes from breast cancer patients displayed local immunosuppression of varying extent. In the areas with the lowest degree of CD28 expression an accordingly low CD3-zeta expression was found. The SNB might prove an important diagnostic tool for the evaluation of interactions between tumor and the host immune system, helping to select patients who might benefit from adjuvant immunotherapy.

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