Total loss of MHC class I is an independent indicator of good prognosis in breast cancer

Int J Cancer. 2005 Nov 1;117(2):248-55. doi: 10.1002/ijc.21163.


Tumours can be recognised by CTL and NK cells. CTL recognition depends on expression of MHC Class I loaded with peptides from tumour antigens. In contrast, loss of MHC Class I results in NK activation. In our study a large set of samples from patients with primary operable invasive breast cancer was evaluated for the expression of MHC Class I heavy and light by immunohistochemical staining of 439 breast carcinomas in a tissue microarray. Forty-seven percent (206 of 439) of breast carcinomas were considered negative for HLA Class I heavy chain (HC10), whereas lack of anti-beta2m-antibody staining was observed in 39% (167 of 424) of tumours, with only 3% of the beta2m-negative tumours expressing detectable HLA Class I heavy chain. Correlation with patient outcome showed direct relationship between patient survival and HLA-negative phenotype (log rank = 0.004). A positive relationship was found between the intensity of expression of MHC Class I light and heavy chains expression and histological grade of invasive tumour (p < 0.001) and Nottingham Prognostic Index (p < 0.001). To investigate whether HLA Class I heavy and light chains expression had independent prognostic significance, Cox multivariate regression analysis, including the parameters of tumour size, lymph node stage, grade and intensity of HC10 and anti-beta2m staining, was carried out. In our analysis, lymph node stage (p < 0.001), tumour grade (p = 0.005) and intensity of MHC Class I light and heavy chains expression were shown to be independent prognostic factors predictive of overall survival (p-values HC10 = 0.047 and beta2m = 0.018).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / mortality
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Female
  • Gene Deletion
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Major Histocompatibility Complex
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Prognosis
  • Survival Analysis
  • beta 2-Microglobulin / deficiency


  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I
  • beta 2-Microglobulin