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J Proteomics. 2013 Jun 24;85:44-52. doi: 10.1016/j.jprot.2013.04.029. Epub 2013 Apr 30.

Complement C3f serum levels may predict breast cancer risk in women with gross cystic disease of the breast.

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Biopolymers and Proteomics Unit, IRCCS AOU San Martino-IST, San Martino University Hospital and National Cancer Research Institute, Genoa, Italy.


Gross cystic disease (GCDB) is a breast benign condition predisposing to breast cancer. Cryopreserved sera from GCDB patients, some of whom later developed a cancer (cases), were studied to identify potential risk markers. A MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry analysis found several complement C3f fragments having a significant increased abundance in cases compared to controls. After multivariate analysis, the full-length form of C3f maintained a predictive value of breast cancer risk. Higher levels of C3f in the serum of women affected by a benign condition like GCDB thus appears to be correlated to the development of breast cancer even 20 years later.


Increased complement system activation has been found in the sera of women affected by GCDB who developed a breast cancer, even twenty or more years later. C3f may predict an increased breast cancer risk in the healthy population and in women affected by predisposing conditions.

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