Correlation between tumour and serum β 2 m expression in patients with breast cancer

T. Klein, I. Levin, A. Niska, R. Koren, R. Gal, J. Schachter, B. Kfir, R. Narinski, S. Warchaizer, B. Klein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


HLA class I antigens are composed of a major histocompatibility complex (MHC) encoded heavy chain that is associated non-covalently with a light chain β-2 microglobulin (β-2m). When the HLA complex is metabolized, β-2m is shed into the serum. A large variety of human and experimental tumours have altered MHC class I expression. In a previous study we observed elevated mean β-2m serum levels in breast cancer patients, as compared to controls. To study the relationship between tumour expression and serum levels, we examined 54 patients with breast cancer. Tumour β-2m was determined by immunohistochemistry and serum levels by the ELISA technique. Of the 54 patients, 38 had low and 16 had high β-2m expression on the tumour. There was a significant correlation between tumour β-2m and serum β-2m levels (P= 0.02), with patients whose tumours expressed high β-2m having high serum β-2m levels. There was an inverse correlation between tumour grade and tumour β-2m expression which approached statistical significance (P= 0.06). These findings suggest that in a substantial number of patients the high serum levels derive from shedding of β-2m from tumour cells. These levels may have implications for tumour growth and metastases due to influences on immunological responses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-423
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Immunogenetics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1996


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