Purpose: This study was performed to evaluate the potential of specific mRNA markers to detect micrometastases by reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and Southern blot analysis of sentinel lymph nodes (SNs) and blood from patients with breast cancer. Patients and Methods: We assessed the specificity of carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), cytokeratin-19 (CK-19), CK-20, gastrointestinal tumor-associated antigen-733.2 (GA733.2), and mucin-1 (MUC-1) in the blood of healthy donors (n = 13) and lymph nodes from patients without cancer (n = 3) by RT-PCR assay. The sensitivity of the RT-PCR assay for the target mRNA markers was assessed in breast cancer cell lines (n = 4), primary breast tumors (n = 8), and the frozen sections of SNs (n = 22) from 22 patients with American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) stages I to IIIA breast cancer. Results: CK-20 was the only mRNA marker not detected in lymph nodes or blood from patients without cancer. Both the blood and lymph nodes from patients without cancer expressed CEA, CK-19, GA733.2, and MUC-1 mRNA. All four breast cancer cell lines and six of eight primary breast tumors expressed all five mRNA markers. Expression of mRNA by the RT- PCR assay in the frozen-section SNs (n = 12) without metastases by conventional histopathology ranged from 8% (CK-20) to 92% (GA733.2). Detection of RT-PCR cDNA products in frozen-section SNs was increased with Southern blot analysis compared with ethidium bromide gel electrophoresis (EtBr) for all mRNA markers except CK-19. Conclusion: CEA, CK-19, GA733.2, and MUC-1 show no diagnostic value as mRNA markers for the detection of micrometastases by the RT-PCR assay because they are expressed in the blood and lymph nodes of patients without cancer. Further studies are needed to assess the sensitivity of CK-20 to detect micrometastases by the RT-PCR assay in the blood and frozen-section SNs of patients with breast cancer.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research