Mammaglobin expression in gynecologic malignancies and malignant effusions detected by nested reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction

Lab Invest. 2002 Sep;82(9):1147-53. doi: 10.1097/01.lab.0000027840.16064.8a.


The detection of micrometastatic disease remains a challenge for the diagnosis and monitoring of malignant disease. RT-PCR for human mammaglobin (hMAM) was recently shown to provide a sensitive method for assessing circulating breast cancer cells in peripheral blood. This study was aimed at investigating hMAM expression in normal and malignant tissue from the female genital tract and the prostate as well as in malignant effusions derived from gynecologic malignancies. hMAM expression was analyzed with nested RT-PCR in 152 samples of normal (n = 73) and malignant epithelial tissues (n = 79) and in 33 specimens of various normal mesenchymal tissue types. We found hMAM expression was not restricted to the normal mammary gland and breast carcinoma but was also detectable in most specimens of benign and malignant epithelial tissue from the ovary (97% versus 95%), uterus (both 100%), and cervix (91% versus 90%). Notably, hMAM expression was also found in benign prostatic hyperplasia (45%) and in prostate cancer (55%). A much lower expression rate was found in various normal and benign mesenchymal tissues (12%). In keeping with our previous data, hMAM expression was absent in all control samples (n = 124) of peripheral blood and bone marrow from healthy volunteers and patients with hematologic malignancies. In pleural or peritoneal effusions (n = 42) from patients with carcinomas of the breast, endometrium, or ovary, hMAM positivity was noticed in the majority of cases (74%), whereas only 52% of the specimens were cytologically positive for tumor cells. In conclusion, hMAM expression assessed by nested RT-PCR is a sensitive molecular marker for detecting micrometastatic tumor spread into pleural effusions and ascites from patients with breast cancer and various other gynecologic neoplasms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / metabolism*
  • Genitalia, Female / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mammaglobin A
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics*
  • Pleural Effusion, Malignant / metabolism*
  • Prostate / metabolism
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Uteroglobin / genetics*


  • Mammaglobin A
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • SCGB2A2 protein, human
  • Uteroglobin