The transforming growth factor βs (TGF-β) comprise a family of Mr 25,000 pluripotent growth factors which have been implicated in the development and progression of human breast cancer. Conflicting data suggest that TGF-β has the potential to either inhibit or promote the progression of mammary neoplasia. We therefore examined a pathological library of malignant breast biopsy specimens to determine the prevalance and distribution of immunoreactivity with antibodies specific for the three mammalian isoforms of TGF-β (β1, β2, and β3). We found that intense staining for TGF-β1 was positively associated with rate of disease progression, and that this was independent of age, stage, nodal status, or estrogen receptor status (P = 0.009).

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This work was in part supported by the United States National Cancer Institute Grant CA23108.

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