We have examined by immunohistochemistry the ability of breast carcinomas to produce pepsinogen C, an aspartyl proteinase usually involved in the digestion of proteins in the stomach. A total of 113 out of 245 breast tumours (46%) were positive for pepsinogen C immunostaining. There was a significant association between pepsinogen C and oestrogen receptors with proteinase levels higher (HSCORE) in oestrogen receptor positive tumours than in oestrogen receptor negative. There was also a significant association between pepsinogen C and histological grade, pepsinogen C levels being higher in well and moderately differentiated breast carcinomas than in poorly differentiated tumours. On the basis of these results, we suggest that pepsinogen C may be useful as a marker of good prognosis in breast cancer.
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