Downregulation of gelsolin correlates with the progression to breast carcinoma

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2001 Jan;65(1):11-21. doi: 10.1023/a:1006446108411.


The actin cytoskeleton underlies several normal cellular functions and is deranged during carcinogenesis. Gelsolin, a multifunctional actin-binding protein, is downregulated in several types of tumors and its abnormal expression is one of the most common defects noted in invasive breast carcinoma (ICA). This study utilizes immunohistochemistry to examine the expression of gelsolin in 95 ICA, 59 ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) and 36 benign lesions, including 17 atypical ductal hyperplasia (ADH). Cytoplasmic staining was scored as positive, reduced or negative. Gelsolin expression was then correlated with patient's age, tumor size, histologic grade and lymph node status. All unremarkable breast biopsies, 88% of ADH, 44% of DCIS and 28% of ICA were positive for gelsolin. This represents a significant difference among the groups (p = < 0.0001) and the trend towards reduced gelsolin with the progression to ICA is significantly linear (p = < 0.0001). For invasive carcinoma, patients older than 44 years were significantly more likely to have decreased expression of gelsolin than patients 44 years old and younger (p = 0.007). Bivariate analysis showed no correlation of gelsolin expression with lymph node status (p = 0.62), tumor size (p = 0.10), histologic grade (p = 0.42), estrogen receptor status (p = 1.0) or other clinicopathologic parameters. In clinical follow-up, there were 18 breast tumor related deaths within a median follow-up time of 4.2 years. Survival analysis indicated that the level of gelsolin expression may be associated with survival (p = 0.06). In summary, the frequency of gelsolin deficiency increases significantly with progression from ADH to DCIS to ICA. Additionally, gelsolin expression may be an independent marker of prognosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breast Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Carcinoma / physiopathology*
  • Carcinoma, Intraductal, Noninfiltrating / physiopathology*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic*
  • Disease Progression
  • Down-Regulation
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gelsolin / biosynthesis*
  • Gelsolin / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness*
  • Precancerous Conditions
  • Prognosis
  • Receptors, Estrogen / analysis
  • Survival Analysis


  • Gelsolin
  • Receptors, Estrogen