Plasma insulin-like growth factor binding protein-3 proteolysis is increased in primary breast cancer

Br J Cancer. 2001 Jul 6;85(1):74-7. doi: 10.1054/bjoc.2001.1860.


Fasting blood samples were obtained before definitive surgery or biopsy in 128 patients referred to the department of surgery with suspected or manifest breast cancer. Insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I, IGF-II and free IGF-I were measured by radioimmunoassay/immunoradiometric assay, while IGFBP-3 proteolysis was evaluated by Western immunoblot. 12 patients had ductal carcinoma in situ benign conditions, while staging revealed metastatic disease in 15 of 16 patients with invasive cancers. IGFBP-3 proteolysis above the normal range was recorded in 19 patients with invasive cancers, but in none of the patients suffering from DCIS/benign conditions. Increased IGFBP-3 proteolysis was most frequently recorded in patients harbouring large tumours and metastatic disease (Stage I: 0/19, 0%; Stage II: 3/45, 7%, Stage III: 9/37, 24%, and Stage IV: 7/15, 47%). IGFBP-3 proteolysis was significantly higher in Stage III (P =0.01) and IV (P< 0.001) patients compared to the other stage groups (P = 0.001). IGF-I and IGF-II correlated negatively to IGFBP-3 proteolysis and age. Plasma levels of IGF-I and -II were significantly lower in patients with elevated IGFBP-3 proteolysis compared to those within the normal range. Our findings reveal alterations in the IGF-system among a substantial number of patients with large primary breast cancers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breast Neoplasms / blood*
  • Breast Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Carcinoma in Situ / blood
  • Carcinoma in Situ / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / blood
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 3 / blood*
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Peptide Hydrolases / metabolism
  • Prospective Studies


  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 3
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Peptide Hydrolases