Comparison of different antibodies for detection of progesterone receptor in breast cancer

Steroids. 2002 Aug;67(9):799-813. doi: 10.1016/s0039-128x(02)00039-9.


Monoclonal antibodies directed against human estrogen receptor (ER) and progesterone receptor (PR) have been used extensively for biochemical and immunohistochemical detection of receptors independent of hormone-binding assays. These antibodies have been valuable both for experimental work and for detection of receptors in clinical breast cancer specimens. The purpose of this study was to characterize the sensitivity and specificity of different antibodies for detection of PR by immunohistochemistry (IHC) of formalin-fixed paraffin breast carcinoma sections. The panel of twelve antibodies included two new ones (PgR636 and PgR1294) produced prospectively to be resistant to formalin fixation and paraffin embedding. Fifty-nine breast carcinomas, having known PR levels by biochemical ligand-binding assay, were used to prepare multitumor paraffin-embedded tissue blocks for characterization of the PR antibodies. Of all the antibodies tested, both PgR636 and PgR1294 stained the highest percentage of breast carcinomas known to be positive by the biochemical assay (95-98%) and they exhibited the highest concordance with the biochemical assay (88-90%). The PgR636 and PgR1294 antibodies, along with one other, PR 88, also gave the highest intensity of nuclear staining, while PgR636 and PgR1294 stained the highest mean percentage of tumor cell nuclei. Antigen retrieval was not necessary for PR immunostaining by PgR636 and PgR1294 in most tumors and other tissues examined, but did slightly increase the staining intensity. The majority of the other antibodies tested were highly dependent on antigen retrieval; only PR 88 and KD 68 antibodies approached the performance of PgR636 and PgR1294 without antigen retrieval. These results indicate that PgR636 and PgR1294 are optimal antibodies for IHC detection of PR in routine paraffin tissue blocks.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / immunology*
  • Antibody Specificity
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / immunology
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Epitope Mapping
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Paraffin Embedding
  • Receptors, Estrogen / analysis
  • Receptors, Estrogen / immunology
  • Receptors, Progesterone / analysis*
  • Receptors, Progesterone / immunology*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tissue Fixation


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Receptors, Progesterone