Polymorphic epithelial mucin (MUC-1)-containing circulating immune complexes in carcinoma patients

Br J Cancer. 1995 Oct;72(4):934-8. doi: 10.1038/bjc.1995.436.


Circulating immune complexes (CICs) containing polymorphic epithelial mucin (PEM/MUC-1) were found in sera of 24.5% of 151 primary breast carcinoma patients and 18-21.4% of patients with advanced ovarian (n = 56) and breast carcinomas (n = 61), 37% of patients with benign breast tumours, but in only 2.1% of 96 healthy individuals. The incorporation of PEM into CICs affects the detection of circulating PEM in commercial immunoassays such as the CA 15-3 assay, as suggested by a negative correlation between levels of PEM-containing immune complexes (PEM-CICs) and CA 15-3 values, and confirmed by isolation of PEM from CA 15-3-negative sera containing high levels of PEM-CICs. The amounts of PEM masked by human antibodies correspond to significant values of the CA 15-3 assay when monitoring patients for carcinoma. Most antibodies in PEM-CICs were of IgG class, suggesting their specific nature to the PEM epitopes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antigen-Antibody Complex / blood*
  • Autoantibodies / blood
  • Breast Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Mucin-1 / blood
  • Mucins / blood*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / immunology*


  • Antigen-Antibody Complex
  • Autoantibodies
  • Mucin-1
  • Mucins