Expression and localization of elements of the plasminogen activation system in benign breast disease and breast cancers

J Cell Biochem. 1993 Oct;53(2):135-44. doi: 10.1002/jcb.240530206.


The malignant potential of solid tumors is related to the ability to invade adjacent tissue and to metastasize. These properties of cancer cells depend on the synthesis of proteolytic enzymes which are able to digest adjacent connective tissue and basement membranes. We hypothesized that all elements of the plasminogen activation system might be overexpressed in malignant human breast tumors, functioning as an essential element in tumor invasion and metastasis. As determined by histopathological methods, the malignant tumors showed statistically significantly higher expression of urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA), type-1 plasminogen activator inhibitor (PAI-1), and especially urokinase plasminogen activator receptor (uPAR) than benign tissues. All those elements were present in higher amounts in the cancer cells than in the cells of benign or normal breast tissues. High exhibition of tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) found in cancer seems to be random and not related to the malignant or benign state, since benign and malignant tumors show overexpression of tissue plasminogen activator with similar frequency. When the tumors express high amounts of uPA, they express a high amount of uPAR in 50% of cases and PAI-1 in 57.3% of cases. When urokinase is expressed in low amount, the receptor is low in 28.6% and inhibitor in 21.4% of malignant breast tumors. This statistically significant consensus, 78.6% in the case of urokinase and its receptor and 78.6% in case of urokinase and its inhibitor, suggests that these activities may be the result of a unique mechanism of control, activated in the last steps of malignant transformation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Breast Diseases / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Cell Membrane / chemistry
  • Cytoplasm / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Plasminogen / metabolism*
  • Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor 1 / analysis
  • Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor 1 / metabolism
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / analysis
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / metabolism
  • Receptors, Urokinase Plasminogen Activator
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator / analysis
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator / metabolism
  • Urokinase-Type Plasminogen Activator / analysis
  • Urokinase-Type Plasminogen Activator / metabolism


  • PLAUR protein, human
  • Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor 1
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Receptors, Urokinase Plasminogen Activator
  • Plasminogen
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator
  • Urokinase-Type Plasminogen Activator