Novel immunofluorescence protocol for multimarker assessment of putative disseminating breast cancer stem cells

Marija Balic, Nadine Rapp, Stefanie Stanzer, Henry Lin, Jasmin Strutz, Joanna Szkandera, Maria Grazia Daidone, Hellmut Samonigg, Richard James Cote, Nadia Dandachi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Purpose: The phenotypical and functional variety of breast cancer cells is well recognized. This variety is evident in primary tumors and in disseminated tumor cells (DTCs) and solid metastases as shown for recognized prognostic factors, such as estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, or human epidermal growth factor receptor 2/neu and also for cancer stem cell markers such as CD44, CD24, or aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH). For the development of new therapeutic strategies, the identification and characterization of disseminated breast cancer cells are needed. This requires the use of multiple antibodies (ie, cytokeratin, Her2/neu, ALDH1, CD44, and CD24) labeled with fluorochromes of different colors and spectral image analysis to separate different color spectra. Methods: We have focused here on putative breast cancer stem cell markers and evaluated the feasibility of triple and quadruple labeling of breast cancer cells. Using breast cancer cell lines we have developed a method optimized for multimarker analysis by employing novel DyLight Technology. Single marker immunofluorescence was performed in 6 replicates, and reproducible results had to be obtained before proceeding to multimarker immunofluorescence. Results: Three of the markers, CD44, ALDH1, and cytokeratin have been directly conjugated with DyLight dyes. CD24 could not be conjugated directly to the fluorescent dye. A labeled secondary antibody was used for visualization. Single and multimarker immunofluorescence gave consistent results throughout the replicates. Conclusions: This novel protocol will facilitate detection and phenotypical characterization of disseminated tumor cells. In addition, by adding additional markers, distinct subpopulations could be evaluated for the expression of particular therapeutic targets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-40
Number of pages8
JournalApplied Immunohistochemistry and Molecular Morphology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011


  • ALDH1
  • CD24
  • CD44
  • Multimarker immunofluorescence
  • breast cancer stem cells
  • disseminated tumor cells


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