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Horm Metab Res. 2010 Feb;42(2):102-9. doi: 10.1055/s-0029-1241859. Epub 2009 Nov 9.

Expression of the lipid transporters ABCA3 and ABCA1 is diminished in human breast cancer tissue.

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Institute of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine, University Hospital of Regensburg, Germany.


ATP-binding cassette transporters ABCA3 and ABCA1 are related to a differentiated, lipid-secreting phenotype of type II pneumocytes. Since mammary gland epithelial cells also show pronounced lipid metabolism and secretion, we investigated the expression of these proteins in normal as well as in neoplastic breast tissue. Normal human breast tissue, breast cancer cell lines, and 162 tumor samples of patients with primary unilateral invasive breast cancer were analyzed for ABCA3 and ABCA1 protein expression by immunohistochemistry using tissue microarrays. Strong ABCA3 and ABCA1 expression was found in the inner layer of normal mammary gland epithelium. Concurrent cytoplasmic ABCA3 and ABCA1 immunoreactivity was found in 9 of 11 breast cancer cell lines. ABCA3 and ABCA1 were shown to be differentially expressed in human breast cancer. Loss of ABCA3 staining was significantly associated with positive nodal status and negative progesterone receptor expression. In multivariate analysis, diminished ABCA3 expression proved to be a significant, independent and adverse risk factor for tumor recurrence. ABCA1 expression was associated with positive lymph nodes, but not significantly associated with tumor recurrence or breast cancer-specific survival. ABCA3 and ABCA1 are strongly expressed in normal mammary gland epithelium. Decreased ABCA3 expression in breast cancer seems to be associated with poor prognosis.

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