Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Expression of the estrogen-regulated lysosomal protease, cathepsin D, was studied in a series of 94 breast cancers using an immunohistochemical technique. Granular staining of tumor cell cytoplasm was detected in 62 cases. Positive staining was associated with a significant increase in overall time to relapse and when survival was analyzed in terms of intensity of cathepsin D staining there was a significant trend for both increased time to relapse and increased length of survival. The presence of estrogen receptor was associated with positive cathepsin D immunostaining, and in the subgroup of estrogen receptor-positive tumors cathepsin D staining was associated with significantly prolonged survival; this was not the case for estrogen receptor-negative tumors. Positive cathepsin D immunostaining was associated with significant prognostic advantage in patients with confirmed lymph node metastasis but not in node-negative patients. It is suggested that cathepsin D expression reflects the functional integrity of the estrogen response pathway. Cathepsin D may prove a clinically useful adjunct to assessment of estrogen receptor status.

Original publication






Publication Date





265 - 271


Department of Pathology, University of Newcastle-Upon Tyne, United Kingdom.


Tumor Cells, Cultured, Humans, Breast Neoplasms, Lymphatic Metastasis, Neoplasm Recurrence, Local, Tamoxifen, Cathepsin D, Receptors, Estrogen, Prognosis, Immunohistochemistry, Survival Analysis, Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Middle Aged, Female