lmmunohistochemical demonstration of metallothionein in benign and malignant canine mammary tumours


  • Carmen Fuentealba
  • J. E. Mullins


metallothionein, mammary gland, canine, immunohistochemistry, breast


Immunocytochemical demonstration of metallothionein (MT) has been reported as a useful prognostic tool in human breast cancer. The aim of this study was to determine the immunohistochemical location of MT in canine mammary tumours and its possible correlation with the morphologic characteristics of these tumours. Surgical specimens from spontaneous malignant (n=20) and benign mammary neoplasms (n=20) were processed for routine histological examination and immunohistochemical study. An indirect immunoperoxidase technique, using monoclonal antibody E9 against horse MT was employed. Intensity of the stain, the percentage of immunoreactive tumour cells and immunohistochemical overexpression of MT was estimated for each case. Metallothionein overexpression, defined as those cases with more than 10% immunopositive cells, was detected in both benign and malignant mammary tumours. However, strong immunostaining intensity was seen in benign tumours, whereas in malignant tumours immunopositive cells stained weakly. Positive MT immunostaining occurred in neoplastic epithelial cells, and some chondrocytes present in mixed mammary tumours. I-Iowever, staining intensity was variable in immunopositive cells. Differences in staining intensity between the primary malignant mammary tumour, tumour emboli and metastatic cells within a lymph node were also noted. Myoepithelial cells and connective tissue did not stain for MT. We concluded that metallothionein immunostaining cannot be used as a diagnostic or prognostic tool in canine mammary neoplasms. However, results of this study support the hypothesis that MT has a role in tumour proliferation and tumour progression.