Introduction: Tumor growth depends on intrinsic properties of malignant tumor and tumor microenvironment. Cytokines are secreted substances of the tumor microenvironment which are widely produced by tumor and immune cells. The aim of this research was to evaluate concentrations of interleukin 4 (IL-4), interleukin 7 (IL-17) and interferon gamma (IFN-γ) in the breast cancer microenvironment.
Methods: One hundred sixteen women between 18-73 years of age (61.15 ± 24.39) were enrolled in this study. Based on pathologic diagnostic assessment, patients were divided into 2 categories: those affected with benign breast tumor, and the subjects suffering from malignant breast tumors. Biopsy specimens were collected. Following homogenization, IFN-γ, IL-17, and IL-4 concentrations were determined in tumor tissues, adjacent tissues of the tumor, and blood serum samples of these 2 groups of patients by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) method.
Results: Concentrations of IFN-γ, IL-17, and IL-4 were measured in tumor tissue samples, adjacent tissues of the tumor, and blood serum samples in both groups. Malignant breast tumor samples had significantly higher concentrations of IL-4 and IL-17 compared with benign breast tumor samples. And also the concentration of IFN-γ in adjacent tissues of the tumor and in blood serums in patients with malignant breast tumors was significantly higher than that in the benign breast tumor samples. However, there was no significant difference between the concentration of IFN-γ in neoplastic breast tumor tissues and that in the benign breast tumor tissues (P > 0. 05).
Conclusion: Our data indicated that IL-17 and IL-4 cytokines but not IFN-γ had higher concentrations in the subjects with malignant tumor compared with those with benign tumor. The present findings indicated that the concentrations of IL-4 and IL-17 in tumor tissues may be associated with the severity of breast malignancy.