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Int J Oncol. 1998 Mar;12(3):641-8.

Telomerase activity in human proliferative breast lesions.

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Gerhard-Domagk-Institute of Pathology, Domagkstrasse 17, University of Munster, D-48149 Munster, Germany.


Telomerase, a cellular reverse transcriptase, has been detected in the majority of human malignant tumors, where it provides an escape mechanism from proliferative limitations due to progressive telomere erosion with each cell division. In this study, we used a non-radioactive telomeric repeat amplification protocol (TRAP) with an internal telomerase assay standard for the detection and semiquantitative analysis of 98 single frozen sections of normal breast tissue and benign and malignant breast lesions on an automated laser-fluorescence sequencer. Telomerase activity was detected in 36 of 40 (90%) infiltrating breast carcinomas, whereas no activity was found in nonmalignant breast tissues including blunt duct adenosis, papilloma, ductal hyperplasia and atypical ductal hyperplasia. However, telomerase activity was detected in 59% of ductal in situ carcinomas, suggesting that telomerase reactivation is an early event in breast carcinogenesis. We found a positive correlation between telomerase activity levels and cell proliferation determined by MIB1 immunostaining. No correlation, however, could be demonstrated between telomerase activity and other known breast cancer prognostic indicators. Telomerase activity was also detected in 60% of fibroadenomas indicating that careful interpretation of analysis of telomerase activity in fine needle aspirates is required, since low telomerase activity may not necessarily be an indicator of malignancy in breast tissue.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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