Lipid peroxidation, free radical production and antioxidant status in breast cancer

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2000 Jan;59(2):163-70. doi: 10.1023/a:1006357330486.


Reactive oxygen metabolites (ROMs), including superoxide anion (O2*-), hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and hydroxyl radical (*OH), play an important role in carcinogenesis. There are some primary antioxidants such as superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase (GPx) and catalase (CAT) which protect against cellular and molecular damage caused by the ROMs. We conducted the present study to determine the rate of O2*- and H2O2 production, and concentration of malondialdehyde (MDA), as an index of lipid peroxidation, along with the SOD, GPx and CAT activities in 54 breast cancer (BC) patients. Forty-two age- and sex-matched patients with minor surgical problems, who had no history of any neoplastic or breast disorders, were taken as controls. The rate of O2*- production was significantly higher (p < 0.001) in BC patients than controls, irrespective of clinical stages and menopausal status. Similarly, H2O2 production was significantly higher in BC patients, especially in stage III and postmenopausal groups, as compared to the respective controls. MDA concentration was also observed significantly elevated in stage II (p < 0.001), stage III (p < 0.01), postmenopausal (p < 0.005), and premenopausal (p < 0.02) group as compared to their corresponding controls. SOD and GPx activities were found significantly raised in all the groups (p < 0.001), except the GPx activity was found a smaller alteration in stage IV (p < 0.02). On the contrary, CAT activity was found significantly depressed in all the study groups. The maximum depression was observed in stage II (-61.8%). Lower CAT activity in our study may be the effect of higher production of ROMs, particularly O2*- and *OH. SOD and GPx, however, were less effected by these higher ROMs production. The results of our study have shown a higher ROMs production and decreased CAT activity, which support the oxidative stress hypothesis in carcinogenesis. The relatively higher SOD and GPx may be due to the response of increased ROMs production in the blood. However, the higher SOD and GPx activities may be inadequate to detoxify high levels of H2O2 into H2O leading to the formation of the most dangerous *OH radical followed by MDA. Therefore, administration of CAT may be helpful in the management of BC patients. However, further elaborate clinical studies are required to evaluate the role of such antioxidant enzymes in BC management.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antioxidants / analysis*
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Catalase / metabolism
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic
  • Female
  • Free Radicals
  • Glutathione Peroxidase / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lipid Peroxidation / physiology*
  • Malondialdehyde / analysis
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Prognosis
  • Reactive Oxygen Species*
  • Superoxide Dismutase / metabolism


  • Antioxidants
  • Free Radicals
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Malondialdehyde
  • Catalase
  • Glutathione Peroxidase
  • Superoxide Dismutase