Due to high rates of proliferation and DNA synthesis, neoplastic cells have higher requirements of iron than normal cells. For that reason, neoplastic cells have remodelled iron metabolism pathways, over-expressing genes encoding for iron uptake proteins, among which Transferrin Receptor-1 (TFR-1). Accumulating evidence has proven that overexpression of TFR-1 and high Iron concentration, are both widespread condition of cancer cells, both essential to tumour onset and progression. We studied TFR-1 and PCNA immunohistochemical expression in fifteen (15) Canine osteoblastic osteosarcomas (COS). After immunohistochemical staining, counting of TFR-1 positive cells by two independent observers showed that 85%–95% of neoplastic cells were strongly labelled at cytoplasmic level by anti-TFR-1 antibody in all examined COS. Furthermore, 70%–80% of neoplastic cells were positively labelled at the nuclear level by PCNA. Surprisingly, about 100% of intratumour vascular endothelial cells were also positive, whereas extratumour vascular endothelial cells were negative. The latter is an interesting finding, as TFR-1 is usually not expressed in normal vasculature, with the exception of normal brain vascular endothelium, where it allows transport of transferrin, and thus iron, into tissues, suggesting a similar function here to support cancer growth. The early results presented highlight the relevance of TFR-1 expression in canine OS, suggesting therapies involving both TFR-1 and Iron metabolisms in dogs with osteosarcoma should be developed.
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