Expression of pS2, c-erbB-2, and cathepsin D during the menstrual cycle in human breast cancers

Seema A. Khan*, Nick J. Gonchoroff, Linda E. Miller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Many studies have addressed the effect of the timing of surgery for breast cancer relative to menstrual cycle phase, with conflicting results. Explanations for the possibility that survival could be altered by the appropriate timing of breast cancer surgery in humans remain speculative. Methods: We examined the expression of three estrogen related proteins (c-erbB-2, cathepsin D, pS2) in the breast tumors from 69 premenopausal women sampled in different phases of the menstrual cycle. Data on S-phase fraction and hormone receptor expression were also analyzed. Immunohistochemical assays were used to measure the proteins of interest. S-phase fraction was determined by flow cytometry. Analyses were performed based on fraction of cells staining positive for the protein, density of stain, and a histoscore that combined both fraction of positive cells and density. Results: We found no differences in c-erbB-2, cathepsin D, hormone receptor, or S-phase levels in tumors sampled in the follicular versus luteal phase, or perimenstrual versus periovulatory phase. The exception was pS2, which was expressed at greater levels during the luteal than during the follicular phase of the cycle (p < 0.01); but there was no difference in pS2 expression when the patients were classified as periovulatory versus perimenstrual. Conclusions: Our findings do not support a variation in c-erbB-2, cathepsin D, S-phase fraction, or receptor expression as an explanation for the differences in breast cancer prognosis when surgery is timed by menstrual cycle phase. The finding that pS2 (an indicator of hormone sensitivity, and possibly better prognosis) is expressed at higher levels in tumor samples during the luteal phase suggests that the biologic profile of breast tumors may vary with the menstrual cycle and that these variations deserve further study. Published by Lippincott-Raven Publishers

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)462-469
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of surgical oncology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 1997


  • Breast cancer
  • Cathepsin D
  • Menstrual cycle
  • c-erbB-2
  • pS2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Oncology


Dive into the research topics of 'Expression of pS2, c-erbB-2, and cathepsin D during the menstrual cycle in human breast cancers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this