Prognostic significance of the estrogen-regulated protein, cathepsin D, in breast cancer. An immunohistochemical study.
Henry JA., McCarthy AL., Angus B., Westley BR., May FE., Nicholson S., Cairns J., Harris AL., Horne CH.
Expression of the estrogen-regulated lysosomal protease, cathepsin D, was studied in a series of 94 breast cancers using an immunohistochemical technique. Granular staining of tumor cell cytoplasm was detected in 62 cases. Positive staining was associated with a significant increase in overall time to relapse and when survival was analyzed in terms of intensity of cathepsin D staining there was a significant trend for both increased time to relapse and increased length of survival. The presence of estrogen receptor was associated with positive cathepsin D immunostaining, and in the subgroup of estrogen receptor-positive tumors cathepsin D staining was associated with significantly prolonged survival; this was not the case for estrogen receptor-negative tumors. Positive cathepsin D immunostaining was associated with significant prognostic advantage in patients with confirmed lymph node metastasis but not in node-negative patients. It is suggested that cathepsin D expression reflects the functional integrity of the estrogen response pathway. Cathepsin D may prove a clinically useful adjunct to assessment of estrogen receptor status.