Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 129, Issue 2, pp 347–360 | Cite as

Biologic role of activated leukocyte cell adhesion molecule overexpression in breast cancer cell lines and clinical tumor tissue

  • Sibyll Hein
  • Volkmar Müller
  • Nadine Köhler
  • Harriet Wikman
  • Sylke Krenkel
  • Thomas Streichert
  • Michaela Schweizer
  • Sabine Riethdorf
  • Volker Assmann
  • Maike Ihnen
  • Katrin Beck
  • Rana Issa
  • Fritz Jänicke
  • Klaus Pantel
  • Karin Milde-LangoschEmail author
Preclinical study


The activated leukocyte cell adhesion molecule (ALCAM) is overexpressed in many mammary tumors, but controversial results about its role and prognostic impact in breast cancer have been reported. Therefore, we evaluated the biologic effects of ALCAM expression in two breast cancer cell lines and a larger cohort of mammary carcinomas. By stable transfections, MCF7 cells with ALCAM overexpression and MDA-MB231 cells with reduced ALCAM levels were generated and analyzed in functional assays and cDNA microarrays. In addition, an immunohistochemical study on 347 patients with breast cancer with long-term follow-up and analysis of disseminated tumor cells (DTCs) was performed. In both cell lines, high ALCAM expression was associated with reduced cell motility. In addition, ALCAM silencing in MDA-MB231 cells resulted in lower invasive potential, whereas high ALCAM expression was associated with increased apoptosis in both cell lines. Among genes which were differentially expressed in clones with altered ALCAM expression, there was an overlap of 15 genes between both cell lines, among them cathepsin D, keratin 7, gelsolin, and ets2 whose deregulation was validated by western blot analysis. In MDA-MB231 cells, we observed a correlation with VEGF expression which was validated by enzyme-linked immuno sorbent assay (ELISA). Our IHC results on primary breast carcinomas showed that ALCAM expression was associated with an estrogen receptor-positive phenotype. In addition, strong ALCAM immunostaining correlated with nodal involvement and the presence of tumor cells in bone marrow. By Kaplan–Meier analysis, strong ALCAM expression in ductal carcinomas correlated with shorter recurrence-free intervals (P = 0.048) and overall survival (OAS, P = 0.003). Our results indicate that the biologic role of ALCAM in breast cancer is complex, but overexpression might be relevant for outcome in ductal carcinomas.


Breast cancer ALCAM Immunohistochemistry Function Invasion Apoptosis 



This study was kindly supported by the Wilhelm-Sander-Stiftung, Munich, and by the Burkhard Meyer foundation, Hamburg (Grants to K. Milde-Langosch and V. Müller). We thank Kristin Klätschke for her excellent technical assistance with the microarray analysis.

Conflict of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sibyll Hein
    • 1
  • Volkmar Müller
    • 1
  • Nadine Köhler
    • 1
  • Harriet Wikman
    • 2
  • Sylke Krenkel
    • 1
  • Thomas Streichert
    • 3
  • Michaela Schweizer
    • 4
  • Sabine Riethdorf
    • 2
  • Volker Assmann
    • 2
  • Maike Ihnen
    • 1
  • Katrin Beck
    • 1
  • Rana Issa
    • 5
  • Fritz Jänicke
    • 1
  • Klaus Pantel
    • 2
  • Karin Milde-Langosch
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of GynecologyUniversity Medical Center Hamburg-EppendorfHamburgGermany
  2. 2.Department of Tumour BiologyUniversity Medical Center Hamburg-EppendorfHamburgGermany
  3. 3.Department of Clinical ChemistryUniversity Medical Center Hamburg-EppendorfHamburgGermany
  4. 4.Center of Molecular NeurobiologyUniversity Medical Center Hamburg-EppendorfHamburgGermany
  5. 5.Institute of PathologyUniversity Medical Center Hamburg-EppendorfHamburgGermany

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