Estrogen receptor α expression in normal human breast epithelium is consistent over time

Seema A. Khan*, Kimberly A. Yee, Cassandra Kaplan, Josephine F. Siddiqui

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


If increased expression of estrogen receptor α (ER) in benign breast epithelium increases susceptibility to breast cancer, such overexpression should be stable over time. There are no published data regarding this important aspect of ER expression in breast epithelium. We examined the temporal consistency of ER expression in the normal breast tissue of 28 women who had 2 separate breast surgical procedures, at least 6 months apart (mean interval, 2.8 years). Paraffin embedded breast tissue blocks containing an adequate sample of normal breast epithelium and no cancer, were sectioned and processed using the 6F11 antibody and standard immunohistochemical techniques. The ER labelling index (ER LI) was calculated by counting a mean of 2,000 epithelial cells. The median ER LI at first sampling was 13.6 and at second sample 15.5, with R2 = 0.34 and p = 0.001. The ER LI was categorized into high and low values, using a threshold of 10. Twenty-four women (85.7%) showed concordance of high and low expression between the 2 samples (p = 0.002). There were 11 women who were premenopausal at both time points. Among them, much of the variation in ER LI was explained by differences in the menstrual cycle day at the time of sampling and adding the day of cycle to the regression model substantially improved the correlation between first and second labeling indices. These data suggest that ER expression of normal breast tissue is fairly consistent over time and support the notion that overexpression of ER in normal epithelium is a constant feature of the high risk breast.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)334-337
Number of pages4
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2002


  • Estrogen receptor α
  • Normal breast epithelium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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