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The distribution of keratin type intermediate filaments in human breast cancer. An immunohistological study.


Antibodies to different intermediate filament proteins can be used to distinguish cells of epithelial, mesenchymal, muscle, glial and neuronal origin. Antibodies to prekeratin which characterize cells of epithelial origin, and antibodies to vimentin which recognize cells of mesenchymal origin have been used to study twenty cases of breast carcinoma (sixteen infiltrating ductal carcinomas and four infiltrating intraductal carcinomas), two cases of cystic breast disease, two fibroadenomas and one case of benign cystosarcoma phylloides. The prekeratin and vimentin were detected using specific antibodies to these proteins by immunofluorescence microscopy using alcohol fixed paraffin-embedded tissues. In eighteen out of the twenty carcinomas the tumor cells were strongly and specifically stained by antibodies to prekeratin. DIfferent tumors gave different patterns of prekeratin staining. In contrast, when the same specimens were tested with the vimentin antibody, the tumor cells were unstained, and instead only the usual strong staining to fibroblasts and blood vessels in the stroma was observed. In cystic breast disease, fibroadenomas, and benign cystosarcoma phylloides, cells of epithelial origin were strongly stained by the prekeratin but not by the vimentin antibody.

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