Autoantibodies to Aberrantly Glycosylated MUC1 in Early Stage Breast Cancer are Associated with a Better Prognosis

Ola Blixt; Deanna Bueti; Brian Burford; Diane Allen; Sylvain Julien; Michael Hollingsworth; Alex Gammerman; Ian Fentiman; Joyce Taylor-Papadimitriou; Joy M Burchell


Breast Cancer Res. 2011;13(2):R25 

In This Article


Whereas the serum assay (CA15.3) used for detecting the cancer associated MUC1 antigen in breast cancer patient serum does not detect elevated antigen in early stage breast cancer, autoantibodies to specific tumour-associated glycoforms of MUC1 can be detected in sera from Stage I and Stage II breast cancer patients. The difference in the percentage of sera strongly positive for the antibodies in cancer patient sera versus sera from patients with benign disease or from healthy individuals who never developed cancer is highly significant. Follow-up of patients with benign breast disease with sera with high levels of autoantibodies may be appropriate. The lower incidence of metastases and delay in development of metastases in patients with high levels of antibodies to a subset of the glycoforms, suggests that the antibodies may play a role in inhibiting the progression of disease. Administration of antibodies with these specificities is, therefore, a possible therapeutic strategy. This would be particularly appropriate for breast cancer patients with STn positive cancers (25 to 30% of breast cancer patients) as the STnMUC1 glycoform is truly tumour specific.


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