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This article is part of the supplement: 23rd Congress of the International Association for Breast Cancer Research

Meeting abstract

Bovine leukemia virus in human breast tissues

GC Buehring1, KY Choi1 and HM Jensen2

Author Affiliations

1 University of California, Berkeley

2 University of California, Davis, California, USA

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Breast Cancer Res 2001, 3(Suppl 1):A14  doi:10.1186/bcr338


The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:


Received:10 May 2001
Published:29 May 2001

© 2001 BioMed Central Ltd

Meeting abstract

Bovine leukemia virus (BLV) is an oncogenic retrovirus that commonly infects cattle and causes a B cell leukemia/lymphoma in ‰ of 1% of infected cattle. BLV is present in much of marketed beef and dairy products, and breast cancer incidence is greatest in countries with high consumption of bovine foodstuffs. We were therefore interested in determining whether humans were infected with BLV, and whether it might play a role in breast cancer. In previous studies we found that many humans had antibodies to BLV envelope glycoprotein (gp51) and capsid protein (p24), suggesting humans might possibly be infected with BLV. We used immunohistochemistry (IHC) and in situ PCR (IS-PCR) to detect viral protein and proviral DNA, respectively, as signs of infection in surgically excised human breast tissue sections. IHC utilized a monoclonal antibody to the BLV p24 capsid protein. IS-PCR utilized primers from the tax region of the BLV genome to amplify a product with directly incorporated digoxigenin-11 dUTP tags, which were then detected with a peroxidase-conjugated antibody to digoxigenin. The majority of the breast tissues had evidence of BLV proviral genome and four out of 27 were positive for BLV capsid protein. We are working to accumulate data on enough samples to determine whether infection of breast tissue is associated with the pathologic classification of the tissue. This research was supported by funds from the California Breast Cancer Research Program.