Immunohistochemical demonstration of androgen receptor in breast cancer and its relationship to other prognostic factors

J Pathol. 1993 May;170(1):31-5. doi: 10.1002/path.1711700106.


Androgen actions and androgen receptors (ARs) have been described in human breast cancer cells both in vivo and in vitro. With the use of a new monoclonal anti-AR antibody, AR was immunohistochemically demonstrated in 76 primary breast cancers. Positive immunostaining was found in 79 percent of tumours. Benign ductal epithelium was often AR-positive whereas the tumour stroma lacked AR immunoreactivity. At the subcellular level, nuclear localization was evident using either cross-linking (Zamboni's fluid) or precipitating (acetone) fixatives on frozen sections. The use of archival paraffin-embedded tissue yielded negative results. A significant association was found between expression of AR and oestrogen receptor (ER) (P = 0.0006) determined immunohistochemically on adjacent sections. Most progesterone receptor (PR)-negative cases were also AR-negative (P = 0.02), but significant proportion (38 percent) of AR-positive tumours did not contain PR. Unlike ER, AR was not associated with aneuploidy or erb-B2 oncogene overexpression, and was only marginally associated with tumour proliferation rate (S-phase fraction by DNA flow cytometry). In conclusion, the close association of AR with ER and PR suggests that immunohistochemical determination of androgen receptors may have value as a prognostic factor and/or predictor of response to endocrine therapy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / chemistry*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cell Division
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Middle Aged
  • Oncogene Proteins, Viral / analysis
  • Ploidies
  • Prognosis
  • Receptor, ErbB-2
  • Receptors, Androgen / analysis*
  • Receptors, Estrogen / analysis
  • Receptors, Progesterone / analysis


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Oncogene Proteins, Viral
  • Receptors, Androgen
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Receptors, Progesterone
  • Receptor, ErbB-2