The status of oestrogen and progesterone receptors has been measured in 147 primary breast tumours. In addition to the measurement of cytoplasmic oestrogen receptors, the ability of these receptors to bind to oligo(dT)-cellulose has been assessed. This indicates the capability for activation of cytoplasmic receptors to a form able to bind in the nuclear compartment in vivo and thus be part of a functional receptor pathway. All the receptor concentrations measured were increased in the postmenopausal group of patients. All nuclear oestrogen receptors in this group were available for labelling at 4°C, in contrast to the premenopausal group. The apparent functionality of the oestrogen receptor pathway could be equally assessed either by the co-presence of cytosol progesterone receptor with nuclear oestrogen receptor (30 or 4°C) or with activated cytosol oestrogen receptor. The presence of activated cytosol oestrogen receptor was as reliable (80%) as the presence of either nuclear oestrogen receptor at 30 (83%) or 4°C (81%) in predicting the response of breast tumours to endocrine therapy.
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