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Eur J Med Res. 2009 Sep 28;14(10):426-32.

Gene expression of circulating tumour cells in breast cancer patients.

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Department of Radiation Therapy and Radiation Oncology, University of Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany.



The diagnostic tools to predict the prognosis in patients suffering from breast cancer (BC) need further improvements. New technological achievements like the gene profiling of circulating tumour cells (CTC) could help identify new prognostic markers in the clinical setting. Furthermore, gene expression patterns of CTC might provide important informations on the mechanisms of tumour cell metastasation.


We performed realtime-PCR and multiplex-PCR analyses following immunomagnetic separation of CTC. Peripheral blood (PB) samples of 63 patients with breast cancer of various stages were analyzed and compared to a control group of 14 healthy individuals. After reverse-transcription, we performed multiplex PCR using primers for the genes ga733.3, muc-1 and c-erbB2. Mammaglobin1, spdef and c-erbB2 were analyzed applying realtime-PCR.


ga733.2 overexpression was found in 12.7% of breast cancer cases, muc-1 in 15.9%, mgb1 in 9.1% and spdef in 12.1%. In this study, c-erbB2 did not show any significant correlation to BC, possibly due to a highly ambient expression. Besides single gene analyses, gene profiles were additionally evaluated. Highly significant correlations to BC were found in single gene analyses of ga733.2 and muc-1 and in gene profile analyses of ga733.3*muc-1 and GA7 ga733.3*muc-1*mgb1*spdef.


Our study reveals that the single genes ga733.3, muc-1 and the gene profiles ga733.3*muc-1 and ga733.3*3muc-1*mgb1*spdef can serve as markers for the detection of CTC in BC. The multigene analyses found highly positive levels in BC patients. Our study indicates that not single gene analyses but subtle patterns of multiple genes lead to rising accuracy and low loss of specificity in detection of breast cancer cases.

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