Low expression of β1, α2 and α3 subunits of VLA integrins in malignant mammary tumours

Massimo Pignatelli, Andrew M. Hanby, Gordon W.H. Stamp

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111 Citations (Scopus)


The Very Late Antigens (VLAs) are αβ heterodimeric transmembrane proteins mediating cell–substratum as well as cell–cell interactions. Changes in their expression and/or function seem to occur in a number of invasive carcinomas and may at least in part explain their abnormal patterns of growth and differentiation. Using monoclonal antibodies to the β1 (DH12, A1A‐5), α2 (B1.515) and α3 (E1.56) chains, VLA‐2 (α2β1) and VLA‐3 (α3β1) were studied on cryostat sections of three fibroadenomas and 43 invasive breast carcinomas (29 ductal, 14 lobular) by the avidin–biotin complex immunoperioxidase technique. In non‐neoplastic breast tissue and in fibroadenomas VLA‐2 and VLA‐3 were expressed by myoepithelial cells and on the basolateral surface of the luminal cells. There was weak or absent expression of α2, α3 and the common β1 chain in the majority of invasive carcinomas compared to the adjacent normal breast epithelium and preinvasive (in‐situ) carcinomas. In addition, the expression of the α2 chain of VLA‐2 was reduced significantly (P < 0.005) in the poorly differentiated ductal breast carcinomas (Grade III) compared to the well (Grade I) and moderately (Grade II) differentiated ductal tumours. These data give further evidence that loss or down‐regulation of VLA‐2 and VLA‐3 occur relatively frequently in invasive cancers, and, at least in the invasive ductal breast carcinomas. Loss of an extracellular matrix receptor controlling growth and differentiation seems to be one of the abnormalities underlying the progression towards an undifferentiated morphology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-32
Number of pages8
JournalThe Journal of pathology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1991


  • VLA
  • breast carcinoma
  • extracellular matrix
  • immunohistochemistry
  • integrin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine

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