Persistent complement activation on tumor cells in breast cancer

Am J Pathol. 1992 May;140(5):1039-43.


The neoantigens of the C5b-9 complement complex, IgG, C3, C4, S-protein/vitronectin, fibronectin, and macrophages were localized on 17 samples of breast cancer and on 6 samples of benign breast tumors using polyclonal or monoclonal antibodies and the streptavidin-biotin-peroxidase technique. All the tissue samples with carcinoma in each the TNM stages presented C5b-9 deposits on the membranes of tumor cells, thin granules on cell remnants, and diffuse deposits in the necrotic areas. When chemotherapy and radiation therapy preceded surgery, C5b-9 deposits were more intense and extended. The C5b-9 deposits were absent in all the samples with benign lesions. S-protein/vitronectin was present as fibrillar deposits in the connective tissue matrix and as diffuse deposits around the tumor cells, less intense and extended than fibronectin. IgG, C3, and C4 deposits were present only in carcinoma samples. The presence of C5b-9 deposits is indicative of complement activation and its subsequent pathogenetic effects in breast cancer.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Blood Proteins / analysis
  • Breast Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Complement Activation*
  • Complement C3 / analysis
  • Complement C4 / analysis
  • Complement C5 / analysis
  • Complement C5b
  • Cystic Fibrosis / immunology*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / metabolism
  • Cystic Fibrosis / pathology
  • Female
  • Glycoproteins / analysis
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / analysis
  • Macrophages / chemistry
  • Middle Aged
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Vitronectin


  • Blood Proteins
  • Complement C3
  • Complement C4
  • Complement C5
  • Glycoproteins
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Vitronectin
  • Complement C5b