Article

Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 67, Issue 3, pp 263-271

First online:

Estrogen receptor analysis in primary breast tumors by ligand-binding assay, immunocytochemical assay, and northern blot: a comparison

  • Marc LacroixAffiliated withLaboratoire Jean-Claude Heuson de Cancérologie Mammaire
  • , Gilbert QuertonAffiliated withLaboratoire d'Anatomie Pathologique, Institut Jules Bordet, Université Libre de Bruxelles
  • , Philippe HennebertAffiliated withLaboratoire Jean-Claude Heuson de Cancérologie Mammaire
  • , Denis LarsimontAffiliated withLaboratoire d'Anatomie Pathologique, Institut Jules Bordet, Université Libre de Bruxelles
  • , Guy LeclercqAffiliated withLaboratoire Jean-Claude Heuson de Cancérologie Mammaire

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Abstract

Estrogen receptor (ER) status is an important parameter in breast cancer management. In this study, ER protein contents established by two conventional techniques were confronted to ER mRNA level, to analyze whether the latter may be introduced in routine assay. Eighty-seven breast tumor samples were examined. ER amounts were determined by ligand-binding assay (LBA) and by computer-assisted immunocytochemical assay (ICA), ER mRNA was analysed and quantified by northern blot. Seventy-seven percent of tumor samples examined were positive for ER mRNA and they all expressed the 6.7-kb receptor signal. No trace of small-sized ER mRNA variants was detected in any sample. Following akaike information criterion (AIC) discriminant analysis, a simple linear correlation was found between ER mRNA levels and ER amounts provided by LBA. This was not observed when either mRNA or LBA values were compared to ICA values. These latter were found to rapidly reach a plateau at increasing mRNA or LBA values. In conclusion, our data points to the linear correlation between ER amounts determined in breast tumors at both protein and mRNA levels by quantitative methods; they also indicate that the semi-quantitative computer-associated ICA may complement rather than replace these quantitative methods.

akaike information criterion (AIC) breast cancer DCC estrogen receptor immunocytochemical assay (ICA) ligand-binding assay mRNA northern-blot