Altered expression of HLA class I antigens in breast cancer: association with prognosis

Int J Cancer. 2000 Nov 20;89(6):500-5. doi: 10.1002/1097-0215(20001120)89:6<500::aid-ijc6>;2-#.


Loss of surface expression of class I major histocompatibility antigens is commonly observed in malignant tumors and has been considered one of the mechanisms for escape from cytotoxic T cells. However, natural killer cells kill cells lacking HLA class I antigens. In the present study, we characterized by immunohistochemistry the HLA class I expression of breast carcinomas from 187 patients with TNM stages I and II, diagnosed 1981-1984, using beta(2)-microglobulin as a marker and evaluated the effect on survival with a follow-up of up to 14 years. The largest group (48%) consisted of HLA class I-negative tumors (< or =10% of cells stained), mixed expression (>10% and <80% of cells stained) was seen in 36% and only 15% were classified as HLA class I-positive (> or=80% cells stained). No associations could be established with various clinicopathological parameters, such as tumor size, presence of lymph node metastases, histological grade, expression of hormone receptors, S phase and p53 mutations. There was no effect on recurrence-free survival in the whole group; but among node-negative patients (n = 86), those who had tumors with mixed HLA class I expression had a significantly higher probability of disease recurrence (OR = 3.42, p = 0.014) than patients with either HLA class I-positive or -negative tumors, particularly after more than 5 years. In node-positive patients who received adjuvant therapy, this phenotype was not associated with disease recurrence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Neoplasm / biosynthesis*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / biosynthesis
  • Breast Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / mortality
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / immunology*
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Lobular / immunology*
  • Carcinoma, Lobular / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Lobular / pathology
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • HLA Antigens / biosynthesis*
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / biosynthesis*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Middle Aged
  • Survival Analysis
  • beta 2-Microglobulin / biosynthesis


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • HLA Antigens
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I
  • beta 2-Microglobulin