Elevated metallothionein (MT) expression in invasive ductal breast cancers predicts tamoxifen resistance

Pawel Surowiak, R. Matkowski, V. Materna, B. Györffy, A. Wojnar, M. Pudelko, P. Dziegiel, J. Kornafel, M. Zabel

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30 Citations (Scopus)


Elevated expression of the low molecular weight metallothionein (MT) proteins can be found typically in breast cancer cases with less favourable prognosis. The MT gene has been described to be potentially down-regulated by estrogen receptor alpha. The present study is aimed at examining the predictive value of MT expression for results of tamoxifen treatment in breast cancer in relation to steroid receptor status. Sixty patients with primary invasive ductal breast cancers with post-operative tamoxifen treatment were enrolled in the study. In paraffin sections of the studied tumours immmunohistochemical reactions were performed using antibodies directed against MT, estrogen receptors (ER) and progesterone receptors (PgR). Results of the immunohistochemical reactions and of clinical observations were analysed using multivariate progression analysis based on the Cox proportional hazard model. Elevated MT expression was demonstrated to be typical for cases with documented relapse of the disease (P<0.001) or terminated by death (P=0.03). Decreased ER expression was found to be typical for cases of a higher grade (P=0.02) and cases terminated by death (P=0.006). The multivariate analysis showed that elevated MT expression was characteristic for cases with shorter overall survival time (P=0.04). The data showed that MT carried an independent, and also independent from ER status, unfavourable predictive value as far as results of tamoxifen treatment were concerned.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1037-1044
Number of pages8
JournalHistology and Histopathology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2005


  • Breast cancer
  • Metallothionein
  • Tamoxifen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology

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    Surowiak, P., Matkowski, R., Materna, V., Györffy, B., Wojnar, A., Pudelko, M., Dziegiel, P., Kornafel, J., & Zabel, M. (2005). Elevated metallothionein (MT) expression in invasive ductal breast cancers predicts tamoxifen resistance. Histology and Histopathology, 20(4), 1037-1044.