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Clin Chim Acta. 1998 Mar 23;271(2):191-202.

Breast cancer progression is associated with a reduction in the diversity of sialylated and neutral oligosaccharides.

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Department of Surgery, University College London, Medical School, The Institute of Surgical Studies, UK.


Changes in the oligosaccharides attached to glycoproteins and glycolipids have been observed in a variety of malignancies. To understand the relationship between oligosaccharide expression and breast cancer progression we extracted and mapped the sialylated and neutral oligosaccharides from primary breast tumours of patients treated between 1979 and 1981 at Middlesex and University College Hospitals, London. Tumours from two patient groups were evaluated as short-term and long-term survivors. Short-term survivors developed widespread disease within five years (n = 10) whereas long-term survivors had no sign of cancer after fifteen years (n = 9). Paraffin-wax embedded breast cancer specimens were microdissected, the oligosaccharides were released and mapped by separation on anion-exchange and gel permeation chromatography columns. A decrease in the diversity of sialylated and neutral oligosaccharides and the number of sialylated structures was observed in aggressive breast cancers. Aggressive cancers had elevated levels of a mono- and tri-sialylated oligosaccharide only found in trace levels in non-aggressive cancers.

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