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The total plasminogen activator (PA) activity and the activities of urokinase type (uPA) and tissue type (tPA) plasminogen activators were measured in 43 primary human breast cancer homogenates. The majority of the PA activity was found in the 100,000 X g crude membrane pellets (log mean of 490 milli-IU/mg of protein, +1169, -346), and little PA activity was present in the cytosolic supernatant (log mean of 19 milli-IU/mg of protein, +168, -17). The activities of total PA and of each type of PA were compared to the estrogen receptor (ER) and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) status of the tumors and to their histological grade. Total PA activity and uPA activity were not significantly different in any group of tumors stratified according to receptor status or tumor grade. Tissue type PA levels, however, were significantly lower in ER-negative compared with ER-positive tumors and in EGFR-positive compared with EGFR-negative tumors (P less than 0.01 and less than 0.05, respectively). The tPA activity was also related to grade, decreasing with worsening differentiation (P = 0.04). The ER-negative tumors were further stratified into EGFR-positive and -negative subgroups. Only the ER-negative tumors possessing EGFR had significantly lower tPA levels than the ER-positive tumors (P less than 0.01). Low tPA levels in breast cancers were, therefore, associated with ER negativity combined with EGFR positivity and may be an indication of poorer differentiation and prognosis.


Journal article


Cancer Res

Publication Date





6603 - 6607


Breast Neoplasms, ErbB Receptors, Female, Humans, Plasminogen Activators, Receptors, Estrogen, Tissue Plasminogen Activator, Urokinase-Type Plasminogen Activator