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Hum Pathol. 1994 Sep;25(9):863-71.

Cathepsin D immunostaining in paraffin-embedded breast cancer cells and macrophages: correlation with cytosolic assay.

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INSERM Unit 148, Hormones and Cancer Department of Cell Biology, Faculty of Medicine, Montpellier, France.


High cathepsin D (cath-D) concentration in breast cancer cytosol is associated with increased risk of metastasis. To specify the relative contribution of the different cells types responsible for cath-D level in cytosol, we validated semiquantitative cath-D immunoperoxidase staining on formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded sections, using the M1G8 monoclonal antibody, one of the two antibodies of the cytosolic assay. Using computer-aided image analysis, cath-D level in cancer cells was estimated by integrating both staining intensity in each cell and proportion of stained cells. We confirmed on 41 primary breast cancers a higher expression of cath-D in cancer cells compared with peritumoral mammary glands. Cancer cell staining was mostly in lysosomes and for some invasive ductal carcinomas in large vesicles corresponding to phagosomes. Lymphocytes and fibroblasts were not or were only weakly stained. Macrophages also were stained for cath-D, generally on the periphery of the tumor area. The cytosolic cath-D level was correlated with cath-D expression in cancer cells (r = .76; P = 1 x 10(-4)) rather than with the number of macrophages in the tumor (r = .29; P = .09), as determined by use of the specific anti-CD68 antibody. There was a significant increase in the tissue cath-D level in tumors containing large vesicles compared with tumors without large vesicles. This approach provides a means to separately estimate the prognostic significance of cath-D expression in cancer cells and macrophages when evaluating risk of metastasis.

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