HLA class II sublocus expression in benign and malignant breast epithelium

J Pathol. 1988 Aug;155(4):301-9. doi: 10.1002/path.1711550405.


Using immunohistochemistry and a panel of five monoclonal antibodies, the epithelial expression of HLA class II sublocus products by benign and malignant breast has been studied. The magnitude of the stromal mononuclear inflammatory cell infiltrate was assessed. There was expression of HLA class II by 75 per cent of epithelial cells in the benign tissues, with little variation in intensity and between antibodies. There was coordinate expression of DR and DQW1. Epithelial expression by carcinomas was more complex and variable. Most (61 per cent) carcinomas exhibited variable loss of epithelial expression of class II products, as detected by three antibodies recognizing epitopes on DP, DQ, and DR together. Thirteen (28 per cent) carcinomas were completely negative or had very occasional positive cells. The extent of this loss was unrelated to the magnitude of the inflammatory infiltrate and axillary lymph node status. No well-differentiated carcinomas exhibited complete loss. Furthermore, non-coordinate expression of DR and DQW1 was present in 8 out of 40 carcinomas, with the proportion of DQW1 positive epithelium always being less than that of DR. Carcinomas exhibiting non-coordinate expression were never well differentiated; there was no relationship with the extent of the inflammatory infiltrate. This is the first study to detail HLA class II expression in breast, and our results suggest that alterations in expression of these products may modify or reflect tumour behaviour.

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / immunology
  • Breast Diseases / immunology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Epithelium / immunology
  • Epitopes / analysis
  • Female
  • HLA-D Antigens / immunology*
  • HLA-DQ Antigens / immunology
  • HLA-DR Antigens / immunology
  • Humans
  • Lymph Nodes / immunology


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Epitopes
  • HLA-D Antigens
  • HLA-DQ Antigens
  • HLA-DR Antigens