Expression of mammaglobin and gross cystic disease fluid protein-15 in breast carcinomas

Hum Pathol. 2013 Jul;44(7):1241-50. doi: 10.1016/j.humpath.2012.10.009. Epub 2013 Jan 17.


Immunohistochemical analysis of gross cystic disease fluid protein-15 (GCDFP-15) and mammaglobin (MGB) is frequently used in routine practice for assessment of metastases or regional recurrences of breast origin. Breast cancer is highly heterogeneous. Expression of these 2 markers in various breast cancer subtypes has not been well studied. In addition, the usefulness of these two markers in combination in detecting breast origin has not been explored. In this study, a large cohort of breast cancers was evaluated for GCDFP-15 and MGB expression, both individually and combined. Their expression was correlated with cancer subtypes, other biomarkers and clinicopathologic parameters. A higher sensitivity for MGB (42.3%) than GCDFP-15 (31.6%) in detecting cancers of breast origin was observed. Combining both increased the sensitivity further, both for primary tumor (53.0%) and for nodal metastases (69.0%). GCDFP-15 was associated significantly with a breast cancer profile of good prognosis tumors, including lower grade (P < .001), pN (P = .029) and Ki-67 (P < .001) as well as negative basal markers expression (P = .043, .009, and .049 for c-Kit, CK5/6 and epidermal growth factor receptor, respectively) and, thus, may not be sensitive for detection of poor prognosis tumors. MGB has the highest expression in HER2-overexpressing cancers (56.6%), and may be a potentially useful marker for this subtype. Nonetheless, both markers showed low expression in the basal like (BLBC) subtype (11.9% and 21.4% for GCDFP-15 and MGB respectively), therefore, the detection of BLBC remains problematic. Negative results need to be interpreted with caution, and correlation with other clinical findings may be required to exclude the possibility of metastatic BLBC.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / secondary
  • Carcinoma, Intraductal, Noninfiltrating / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma, Intraductal, Noninfiltrating / secondary
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Glycoproteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Lymph Nodes / metabolism
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Mammaglobin B / metabolism*
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Tissue Array Analysis
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Glycoproteins
  • Mammaglobin B
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • PIP protein, human