Association of kallikrein expression in nipple aspirate fluid with breast cancer risk

Int J Cancer. 2004 Feb 10;108(4):588-91. doi: 10.1002/ijc.11607.


Human kallikreins (hK) 2, 3, 6 and 10 are expressed in breast and prostate tissue. hK2 and hK3 (prostate-specific antigen, PSA) are used to screen for prostate cancer. hK6 and hK10 are downregulated in breast cancer compared to normal breast tissue. We demonstrated that levels of PSA in nipple aspirate fluid (NAF) are lower in women with breast cancer than in normal women. We hypothesize that the expression of hK2, 3, 6 and 10 are related and important in detecting breast cancer. The goals of this study are to determine the level of expression of kallikreins in NAF and serum, the association of hK2, 3, 6 and 10 in NAF, and the association of each of the kallikreins with breast cancer. In NAF from 275 women, hK3, 6 and 10 were detectable in >/= 90% and hK2 in 74% of samples analyzed. NAF levels were highest for hK6 and lowest for hK2, regardless of cancer and menopausal status. hK3 was detectable in 15/29 (52%) and hK2 in 0/29 serum samples collected from 6 women. hK2 and hK3 were concentrated in NAF vs. matched serum. The 4 kallikreins were associated with the exception of hK2 with hK6 or hK10. PSA levels were higher in normal pre- than postmenopausal subjects (but not women with breast cancer), whereas levels of hK2, 6 and 10 did not differ by menopausal status. hK2 and PSA were associated with both pre- and postmenopausal breast cancer; hK6 and 10 were not. hK2 and PSA were more associated with pre- than postmenopausal breast cancer. Using logistic regression, PSA and menopausal status provided the best model of breast cancer prediction, with a sensitivity of 91% and specificity of 39%. In conclusion, 4 kallikreins are expressed in NAF. hK2 and PSA, and hK6 and hK10 are highly associated. Higher premenopausal PSA levels suggest the influence of ovarian steroids. PSA shows the most promise in aiding in the early detection of breast cancer.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis
  • Biopsy, Needle
  • Body Fluids / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kallikreins / metabolism*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nipples
  • Postmenopause
  • Premenopause
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen / metabolism
  • Risk Factors
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tissue Kallikreins / metabolism


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • KLK10 protein, human
  • KLK6 protein, human
  • Kallikreins
  • Tissue Kallikreins
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen