Heterogeneity of antigen expression in benign and malignant breast and ovarian epithelial cells

Cinda M. Boyer, Michael J. Borowitz, Kenneth S. McCarty, Robert B. Kinney, Lorri Everitt, Deborah V. Dawson, David Ring, Robert C. Bast

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Expression of II distinct antigen families has been studied in normal and malignant epithelial cells from breast and ovary by avidin‐biotin immunoperoxidase staining of frozen tissue sections. Each of the antigens was expressed in a fraction of the normal and malignant breast tissues from different individuals. Among breast and ovarian cancers, a similar fraction of tumors expressed each of the determinants. An epitope on a 42‐kDa glycoprotein was expressed significantly more often by ovarian carcinomas than by benign ovarian epithelium. Several determinants on 66‐, 240‐kDa or high‐molecular‐weight proteins or glycoproteins were expressed significantly more often on benign breast epithelium than on normal ovarian epithelium. Substantial heterogeneity in antigen expression was observed among different tumor specimens. Each of 14 epithelial ovarian cancers expressed a distinctive combination of antigens. Among 18 breast cancers, 16 distinct antigenic phenotypes were observed. Interestingly, comparable heterogeneity was observed in the expression of epitopes on benign breast and ovarian epithelium, compatible with the possibility that the monoclonal reagents recognized polymorphic determinants. Substantial variations in antigen expression were also observed among cells within each neoplasm. However, when antibodies against 5 different determinants were used in combination, a majority of cells could be stained intensely in all 13 breast carcinomas tested and more than 95% of tumor cells could be stained in 10 of the 13.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-60
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 15 1989
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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