Assessment of RT-PCR detection of human mammaglobin for the diagnosis of breast cancer derived pleural effusions

Silvio Roncella, Paola Ferro, Bartolomeo Bacigalupo, Paolo Dessanti, Paolo Pronzato, Maria Cristiana Zranceschini, Luca Pratticò, Anna Maria Carletti, Pier Aldo Canessa, Vincenzo Fontana, Franco Fais, Maria Pia Pistillo, Franco Fedeli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study investigates the diagnostic significance of human mammaglobin (hMAM) mRNA expression in pleural effusions (PE) from breast cancer (BC) patients. Two hundred and fifty PE samples, including 32 from patients who had diagnosis of BC, 116 from patients with other cancers, and 102 from patients with benign diseases, were subjected to nested reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) for hMAM, and the results were compared with conventional cytology. hMAM was found expressed in 76/250 (30.4%) total PE and in 23/28 (sensitivity of 82.1%) of the PE subgroup owing to metastasis from BC. The specificity for hMAM detection method was 75.7%, whereas accuracy, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value were 76.4%, 30.3%, and 97.1%, respectively. hMAM was also detected in 46/116 (39.6%) PE specimens from other types of cancer and in 7/102 (6.8%) from benign diseases. Comparative analysis of RT-PCR and cytology showed that 14 PE samples from metastatic BC (50%) were positive by both PCR and cytology, 9 (32.1%) were positive only by PCR and 5 (17.9%) were negative by both tests, whereas no cases were found of positive cytology with negative PCR. RT-PCR increased sensitivity of BC effusion detection to 32.1% (McNemar test, P=0.004). We demonstrated that RT-PCR for hMAM test was more sensitive than cytomorphology suggesting that, although hMAM is not BC specific, it may be useful in adjunct to cytology for the routine screening of malignant BC effusions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-33
Number of pages6
JournalDiagnostic Molecular Pathology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008


  • Breast cancer
  • Human mammaglobin
  • Pleural effusion
  • Reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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