Increased proliferative activity and p53 expression in normal glandular breast tissue after radiation therapy.

M. Poeze, M.F. von Meyenfeldt, J.L. Peterse, W.D. George, J.M.A. Dejong, J.J. Jager, F.B.J.M. Thunnissen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Web of Science)


Department of Surgery, University Hospital Maastricht, The Netherlands.

Radiation used in breast-conserving therapy (BCT) for early breast cancer, to eradicate residual malignant cells after tumour resection, induces DNA damage and cell death. Little is known about the effect of the commonly used doses of radiation therapy on normal breast tissue. Under physiological conditions, p53 plays a role in maintaining genomic stability and regulating progression through the cell cycle. In normal glandular breast tissue, p53 expression is very low, as is proliferative activity. The purpose of this study was to investigate the levels of p53 expression and proliferative activity in non-malignant glandular epithelium of the breast after BCT. The immunohistochemical expression of p53 and Ki-67 was semiquantitatively correlated in non-malignant glandular epithelium in biopsies before and after BCT in 24 women with breast cancer. In 18 cases, a recurrence was diagnosed and in the remaining cases, the clinical suspicion was not histologically confirmed. In addition, in six cases with contralateral breast cancer, the same immunohistochemical evaluation was performed in tissue from both breasts. The mean interval between the two surgical interventions was 50 months. The percentage of p53 immunoreactive epithelial cells in normal breast tissue was significantly (P < 0.01) higher after radiation therapy than before in the ipsilateral side (0.2 per cent +/- 0.3 and 4.6 per cent +/- 4.5, respectively). Ki-67 immunoreactivity was also significantly increased (P < 0.001) after radiation therapy, from 0.6 per cent to an average of 4.8 per cent in epithelial cells. In contrast, in the patients with contralateral breast cancer, the levels of p53 and Ki-67 immunoreactivity in the normal glandular breast tissue were comparable to the ipsilateral side (P = 0.7 and P = 0.1, respectively). In conclusion, increased expression of p53 and Ki-67 is present in normal glandular breast tissue, even 2-5 years after radiation therapy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-37
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Pathology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1998

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