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Hum Immunol. 1996 Oct;50(2):127-34.

High frequency of altered HLA class I phenotypes in invasive breast carcinomas.

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Department of Clinical Analyses, Hospital Universitario Virgen de las Nieves, Universidad de Granada, Spain.


We studied 105 tumor samples obtained from patients diagnosed as having breast carcinomas for HLA class I and II (DR) antigen expression, using a panel of mAbs defining HLA-monomorphic, locus-specific and allele-specific determinants. Peripheral blood lymphocytes from patients were also typed for HLA alleles. The results indicated total HLA class I losses in 55 patients (52.3%), HLA-A locus losses in four patients (3.8%), HLA-B locus losses in eight patients (7.6%), and A, B, locus losses in 10 patients (9.5%). The remaining 28 patients whose tissues reacted positively with monomorphic- and locus-specific mAbs were tested for HLA allelic losses using several anti-HLA mAbs defining A2, A3, A9, B8, B12, etc. Of these 28 patients, 16 (57%) showed one or more losses of HLA reactivity. These results indicated that in 88.5% of patients we detected a particular HLA-altered tumor phenotype. The downregulation of HLA class I antigens in breast carcinomas may thus be more frequent than previously reported, and patients without HLA class I downregulation may be the exception rather than the rule. It cannot be ruled out that HLA alterations are present in some of the 12 patients with an apparently normal HLA phenotype, as some HLA alleles could not be studied because of the lack of appropriate mAbs. These HLA alterations could represent an important step associated with tumor invasion, conferring to the tumor cells the ability to escape from T-lymphocyte recognition.

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