Brief communication

Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 305-309

First online:

Relationship of serum and tumor levels of iron and iron-binding proteins to lymphocyte immunity against tumor antigen in breast cancer patients

  • Robert L. ElliottAffiliated withThe Elliott Mastology Center
  • , Jonathan F. HeadAffiliated withThe Elliott Mastology Center
  • , James L. McCoyAffiliated withImmuQuest Laboratories

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Fifty-two breast cancer patients were evaluated for levels of several molecules related to iron metabolism including determining their tumor tissue and serum ferritin levels, serum transferrin levels, and serum iron levels. In addition the patients' lymphocyte immunity against autologous tumor antigen was investigated. Forty percent (21 of 52) of the patients had lymphocyte immunity against tumor antigen. Iron metabolism molecules were expressed in abnormal quantities in some breast cancer patients: 27% (13 of 49) had elevated tumor tissue ferritin levels, 4% (2 of 49) had abnormally high serum ferritin, 10% (5 of 49) had abnormally low serum transferrin levels, and 43% (21 of 49) had depressed serum iron levels. None of these abnormalities in iron metabolism are associated with tumor immunity. These iron metabolism molecules may be indicative of rates of cell proliferation or may influence growth of breast cancer cells, but do not appear to influence host lymphocyte immunity against tumor associated antigens.

Key words

breast cancer immunity tumor antigen ferritin iron transferrin