Serum transferrin receptor level is not altered in invasive adenocarcinoma of the breast

H. N. Raaf, D. W. Jacobsen, S. Savon, Ralph Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


The transferrin receptor is expressed on the surface of rapidly dividing cells that require iron as a co-factor for essential redox reactions and deoxyribonucleotide synthesis. Transferrin receptors are expressed on the surface of breast carcinoma cells but not on benign breast tumor cells. In this study, the authors investigated whether transferrin receptor concentrations in the serum were elevated in patients with invasive adenocarcinoma of the breast. The transferrin receptor was isolated and purified from human placenta by affinity chromatography. The serum transferrin receptor concentration was determined using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in 19 patients with invasive breast adenocarcinoma, 12 of whom had involvement of axillary lymph nodes. These results were compared with those from 16 normal age-matched female controls. In the invasive breast cancer group, the range of transferrin receptor concentrations was 2.60-7.34 mg/L (mean, 4.44 mg/L) compared with 2.85-8.80 mg/L (mean, 5.49 mg/L) in the control group. Nine patients with in situ adenocarcinoma of the breast had transferrin receptor concentrations of 3.68-6.66 mg/L (mean, 4.94 mg/L). For both the invasive carcinoma group and the in situ group, the means were not significantly different from those of the control group (P = 0.06 and 0.32, respectively). It was concluded that the differential expression of transferrin receptor on the surface of malignant tumor cells in adenocarcinoma of the breast was not reflected by changes in circulating transferrin receptor concentrations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)232-237
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Pathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast carcinoma
  • Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay
  • Serum transferrin receptor
  • Transferrin receptor
  • Tumor markers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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