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Int J Cancer. 1997 Sep 17;72(6):937-41.

Expression of cytokine messenger RNA in normal and neoplastic human breast tissue: identification of interleukin-8 as a potential regulatory factor in breast tumours.

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Department of Medicine, University of Hull, UK.


The presence of mRNA transcripts for cytokines in normal and neoplastic human breast tissue has been investigated. Using reverse transcriptase-linked polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), we have specifically screened for the following cytokines: interleukin (IL)-1alpha, IL-1beta, IL-2, IL-3, IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, IL-7, IL-8, tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, TNF-beta and interferon (IFN)-gamma. No significant differences in expression of IL-1alpha, IL-1beta, IL-4, IL-6, TNF-alpha or TNF-beta were observed between the 2 groups of tissues. However, there was a significant difference in expression of IL-8 transcripts (p = 0.0017) which was higher in the neoplastic population. Transcripts for IL-2, IL-3, IL-5, IL-7 and IFN-gamma were not detected in either group. There was no evidence of associations between cytokine expression and tumour histological grade, patient age or lymph node metastases. Correlating tumour types with specific cytokine transcripts revealed high expression of IL-8, and to a lesser extent, IL-8 and TNF-beta irrespective of tumour origin. Analysis of primary epithelial and stromal cultures derived from both types of tissue showed that increased levels of IL-8, but not IL-6, were secreted by cells obtained from tumours. Thus, breast tissue of both normal and neoplastic origin expresses a wide range of cytokines. Increased or aberrant expression of cytokines, in particular IL-8, may be involved in the development/progression of breast cancer.

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