Functional analysis of individual cells and microenvironment of breast cancer-draining lymph nodes

Naomi Zurgil, Assaf Deutsch, Elena Afrimzon, Yana Shafran, Reuven Tirosh, Judith Sandbank, Itzhak Pappo, Mordechai Deutsch*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The development of distant metastases is the major cause of death in breast cancer (BC). In many BC cases, metastases are present in patients with no metastasis-positive lymph nodes (LN). Hence, there is a need to improve prognosis by a better prediction of the nodal status and tumor spread. The current study is designed to develop and utilize new functional characteristics of the cells and microenvironment of BC-draining LN, which may help to improve the estimation of LN metastatic involvement. Innovative devices and methodologies were developed for collecting, transferring, and analyzing LN at an individual-cell resolution. Using these devices, a suspension of living cells were prepared from the LN and processed for various assays, including immunophenotypic analysis, activation status, and invasion activity. The functional profile of tumor-activated LN cells showed an increase in the intracellular enzymatic reaction rate, accompanied by a homogeneous distribution of transferrin receptor as well as by a significant increase in matrix metalloproteinase proteolytic activity. Moreover, the proportion of cells exhibiting such a profile was significantly higher in tumor-containing LN than in tumor-free LN. Thus, the live and postfixation features of LN cells and their microenvironment, correlated with the functional status of the LN, may serve to improve their predictive value in breast cancer examination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)936-945
Number of pages10
JournalCancer Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2008
Externally publishedYes


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