Histochemistry and Cell Biology

, 106:197

Thomsen-Friedenreich-related carbohydrate antigens in normal adult human tissues: a systematic and comparative study


  • Yi Cao
    • Max Delbrück Centre for Molecular Medicine
  • Peter Stosiek
    • Institute of PathologyMax Thiem Klinikum
  • Georg F. Springer
    • H.M. Bligh Cancer Research LaboratoriesUHS/Chicago Medical School
  • Uwe Karsten
    • Max Delbrück Centre for Molecular Medicine
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/BF02484401

Cite this article as:
Cao, Y., Stosiek, P., Springer, G.F. et al. Histochem Cell Biol (1996) 106: 197. doi:10.1007/BF02484401


A broad variety of normal human tissues were examined for the expression of Thomsen-Friedenreich (TF)-related histo-blood group antigens. TF (Galβ1-3GalNAcα1-R), Tn (TF precursor, GalNAcα1-R), sialosyl-Tn (NeuAcα2-6GalNAcα1-R), considered to be useful in cancer diagnosis and immunotherapy, and sialosyl-TF, the cryptic form of TF. These antigens or, more correctly, glycotopcs, were determined by immunohistochemistry with at least two monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) each (except sialosyl-TF) as well as by lectin histochemistry. For a better dissection of sialosyl-TF and TF glycotopes, tissue sections were pretreated with galactose oxidase or the galactose oxidase-Schiff sequence. Staining with mAbs appeared to be more restricted than with the lectins used. Distribution patterns among normal epithelia were different for all four antigens. These antigens were also detected in some non-epithelial tissues. They can be classified in the following sequence according to the frequency of their occurrence in normal tissues: sialosyl-TF> >sialosyl-Tn>Tn>TF. Most of the positively staining sites for TF, Tn, and sialosyl-Tn are located in immunologically privileged areas. The complex results obtained with anti-TF mAbs (after treatment of the tissue sections with sialidase fromVibrio cholerae) and the lectins amaranthin and jacalin revealed a differential distribution of the subtypes of sialosyl-TF [NeuAcα2-3Galβ1-3GalNAcα1-R and Galβ1-3 (NeuAcα2-6)GalNAcα1-R] in normal human tissues. From our data it can be inferred that TF, Tn, and sialosyl-Tn are promising targets for a cancer vaccine.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1996