Smooth‐muscle differentiation in stromal cells of malignant and non‐malignant breast tissues


A mouse monoclonal antibody (MAb) recognizing α‐smooth‐muscle actin has been used to study smooth‐muscle differentiation features in the stromal cells of desmoplastic reactions accompanying mammary tumors. We have studied, by the same immunohistochemical technique, a series of malignant and non‐malignant human breast tissues. Cells composing the desmoplastic reaction were found to express α‐smooth‐muscle actin in all the 11 breast carcinomas examined, whereas no immunostain was demonstrated in the stromal cells of 7 breast tissue samples histologically defined as normal. Three of 9 cases of fibrocystic disease showed a minority of positively stained stromal cells, generally in association with epithelial hyperplasia. All the 7 cases of sclerosing adenosis, 3 of 4 cases of diffuse papillomatosis and all 3 intraductal papillomas exhibited a majority of immunoreactive stromal cells. Numerous stromal cells in 3 of 11 circumscribed fibroadenomas analyzed expressed low amounts of α‐smooth‐muscle actin. The factor(s) responsible for smooth‐muscle differentiation in stromal cells are presently unknown, but the detection of this previously unsuspected stromal cell phenotype in non‐malignant mammary tissues might help in characterizing the variant morphological aspects designated under the label “fibrocystic disease” and in understanding the biology of pre‐malignant or early malignant lesions of the breast. Copyright © 1988 Wiley‐Liss, Inc., A Wiley Company

Publication Title

International Journal of Cancer