Although the immunohistochemical presence of lactoferrin (LF) in pathological neoplastic bone and cartilage samples has previously been studied, no data concerning the distribution of LF in bone metastases of cancers that have originated from different organs are available at present. Consequently, using a monoclonal antibody, we have investigated the immunohistochemical LF pattern in 50 formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded samples of human bone metastases and their corresponding primary carcinoma tumours (breast, 8; prostate, 4; kidney, 4; lung, 3; colon-rectum, 2 and uterus, 4). Quantification of LF immunoreactivity was performed using an intensity distribution (ID) score. LF immuno staining with a variable ID score was encountered in 11/25 (44%) metastatic lesions. In particular, the LF immunoreactivity was identified with a percentage ranging from 50 to 75% of bone metastases due to prostatic, renal, uterine and colorectal carcinomas; the positivity decreased in breast carcinomas (37.5%) and was completely absent in lung cancers. No differences in the LF-ID score were observed between primary and metastatic neoplastic localisations. Additionally, no correlations were identified between LF immunoexpression and the other parameters tested, including the age and gender of patients. Regardless of the mechanism of action of LF in human malignant tumours, we identified LF immunohistochemical reproducibility at primary and metastatic sites. Therefore, we hypothesise that the presence of LF in native neoplastic carcinomatous clones is maintained in secondary bone metastatic deposits.
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