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Glial fibrillary acidic protein immunoreactivity in normal and diseased human breast.

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  • 1Second Department of Pathology, University of Milan School of Medicine, Italy.


Immunostaining for glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) identifies a minor subpopulation of immunoreactive myoepithelial cells in the normal resting human breast. The GFAP-immunoreactive cells also express a panel of myoepithelial cell markers, including cytokeratin 14 (CK 14), vimentin, smooth-muscle-specific actin isoforms, nerve growth factor receptor (NGFR) and common acute lymphoblastic leukaemia antigen (CALLA). The percentage of GFAP-immunoreactive myoepithelial cells is greatly increased in various neoplastic and non-neoplastic diseases of the breast, being highest in adenomyoepitheliomas. Furthermore, in all the instances of fibroadenoma, phyllodes tumour, epitheliosis and gynaecomastia, a variable number of epithelial cells also acquires immunoreactivity for GFAP, vimentin, CK 14, NGFR and, to a lesser extent, for CALLA. Conversely, GFAP immunoreactivity has never been encountered in the malignant cells of the different types of breast carcinoma. These findings suggest that the expression of GFAP might be a (possibly transient) feature of proliferating epithelial and myoepithelial cells in breast diseases other than carcinomas.

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