Pleomorphism of the nuclear envelope in breast cancer: A new approach to an old problem

Gianni Bussolati, Caterina Marchiò, Laura Gaetano, Rosanna Lupo, Anna Sapino

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In routine practice, nuclear pleomorphism of tumours is assessed by haematoxylin staining of the membrane-bound heterochromatin. However, decoration of the nuclear envelope (NE) through the immunofluorescence staining of NE proteins such as lamin B and emerin can provide a more objective appreciation of the nuclear shape. In breast cancer, nuclear pleomorphism is one of the least reproducible parameters to score histological grade, thus we sought to use NE proteins to improve the reproducibility of nuclear grading. First, immuno-fluorescence staining of NE as well as confocal microscopy and three-dimensional reconstruction of nuclei in cultured cells showed a smooth and uniform NE of normal breast epithelium in contrast to an irregular foldings of the membrane and the presence of deep invaginations leading to the formation of an intranuclear scaffold of NE-bound tubules in breast cancer cells. Following the above methods and criteria, we recorded the degree of NE pleomorphism (NEP) in a series of 273 invasive breast cancers tested by immunofluorescence. A uniform nuclear shape with few irregularities (low NEP) was observed in 135 cases or, alternatively, marked folds of the NE and an intranuclear tubular scaffold (high NEP cases) were observed in 138 cases. The latter features were significantly correlated (P-value

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-218
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2008


  • Breast cancer
  • Immunofluorescence
  • Nuclear envelope
  • Pleomorphism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Biochemistry


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