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Cellular Oncology
Volume 31, Issue 5, Pages 383-392

Protein Oxidation in Breast Microenvironment: Nipple Aspirate Fluid Collected from Breast Cancer Women Contains Increased Protein Carbonyl Concentration

Ferdinando Mannello, Gaetana A. Tonti, and Virginia Medda

Department of Biomolecular Sciences, Section of Clinical Biochemistry, University of Urbino, Urbino, Italy

Copyright © 2009 Hindawi Publishing Corporation and the authors. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background: Protein carbonyl levels are the most frequently used biomarker of protein oxidation in several human diseases, including cancer. Breast cancer, a worldwide disease with increasing incidence, develops from ductal/lobular epithelium from which nipple aspirate fluid can be collected and analysed to assess tissue metabolic activity. Our aims were to perform an exploratory investigation on the protein carbonyl accumulation in breast secretions from healthy and cancer patients and its correlation with lipid peroxidation markers.

Methods: Protein carbonyls were determined by ELISA in 288 Nipple Aspirate Fluids (NAF) from Control, Pre-malignant and Cancer patients.

Results: Significantly higher protein carbonyl concentration was found in NAF from breast cancer (BC) patients compared to Control subjects. Cancer patients accumulated in NAF significantly higher levels of carbonyls in post-menopausal condition. A significant inverse relationship between carbonyls and 8-F2α-isoprostanes in NAF was found in Cancer patients. NAF levels of protein carbonyls are significantly higher in women with pre-malignant conditions than in healthy subjects.

Conclusions: Our results support the hypothesis that oxidative stress in breast microenvironment plays a role in breast cancer; measurement of protein and lipid oxidative products in NAF may improve the identification of women at increased breast cancer risk.