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Author Notes:

Gabriela Oprea-Ilies, Phone: 678-778-7399, Fax: 404-616-9084, Email: goprea@emory.edu

We thank Dr. Brent Clark, Professor of Neuropathology, University of MN, for generously providing pineal tissue for positive control for MT1.

he support of Ms Violetta Krstich in the preparation of the manuscript is acknowledged.

The Study was approved by the IRB at Emory University and complies with the current laws of the USA and by the Research Oversight Committee (ROC) at Grady Memorial Hospital.

Authors have no financial relationship with the sponsoring agencies. The authors decree that they have no conflict of interest.


Research Funding:

This study was supported by the HealthPartners Institute for Education and Research and the Department of Pathology, Regions Hospital, St. Paul, MN.


  • Science & Technology
  • Life Sciences & Biomedicine
  • Oncology
  • Melatonin receptor MT1
  • Triple negative breast cancer
  • Racial disparity
  • African American
  • Breast cancer
  • MT1

Expression of melatonin receptors in triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) in African American and Caucasian women: relation to survival


Journal Title:

Breast Cancer Research and Treatment


Volume 137, Number 3


, Pages 677-687

Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF


In the normal rodent breast, the pineal hormone melatonin controls the development of ductal and alveolar tissue. Melatonin counteracts tumor occurrence and tumor cell progression in vivo and in vitro in animal and human breast cancer cell cultures. It acts predominantly through its melatonin MT1 receptor. Our aim was to investigate the presence or absence of the MT1 melatonin receptor in the aggressive triple negative group of human breast carcinoma (TNBC) and its possible relationship to the course of the disease. A total of 167 patients with a ER-, PR-, Her-2/neu- phenotype in which tissue for receptor studies was available were examined. The MT1 receptor immunostain was evaluated semiquantitatively as staining intensity (0, 1, 2, 3), percentage of stained cells and the weighted index (WI) (staining intensity times percentage of stained cells). A score of WI < 60 was regarded as "negative". There was a striking difference in incidence of MT1 positivity and staining intensity between carcinomas in African American (AA) and Caucasian (C) women. The AA showed a higher incidence of MT1 negative tumors (41/84 = 48.8 % in AA, 6/51 = 11.8 % in C) and a lower average WI. MT1 positivity in TNBC was associated with a lower stage and a smaller tumor size at time of diagnosis. In multivariable survival analysis, MT1 negative TNBC in all cases regardless of race showed a significantly higher hazard ratio for disease progression, shorter progression free survival, and disease-related death, and shorter OS. This was especially pronounced in the AA group but did not reach statistical significance in the smaller group of C alone. These results suggest that melatonin or a melatonin receptor agonist may be useful biologic additions in the treatment of some forms of TNBC, especially in AA who generally show a more aggressive course of their disease.

Copyright information:

© 2012 The Author(s).

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