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Anthracycline-based chemotherapy represents a milestone in the treatment of breast cancer. We previously demonstrated in an in vitro model that cyclin E overexpression is associated with increased expression of manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD) and resistance to doxorubicin. In the present study, immunohistochemical expression of cyclin E and MnSOD was evaluated in 134 early breast cancer patients receiving adjuvant epirubicin-based chemotherapy regimens containing epirubicin. Both parameters were correlated with the available clinicopathological parameters and with the outcome of patients. Overexpression of cyclin E and MnSOD was detected in 46 (34.3%) and 56 (41.8%) patients, respectively, and expression levels of the two proteins were related. Disease-free and alive patients displayed a lower mean percentage of cyclin E-expressing cells than relapsed and dead patients, respectively. Kaplan–Meier survival analysis demonstrated a significant separation between high versus low cyclin E-expressing tumors in terms of overall survival (P = 0.038 by log-rank). Similar results were obtained considering the subset of node-negative patients separately. No significant relationship with patient outcome was observed for MnSOD expression levels. At multivariate analysis cyclin E failed to demonstrate an independent prognostic value. In conclusion, the results of the present study support previous evidence that increased cyclin E expression is associated with higher MnSOD expression levels and poorer outcome, at least as evaluated in terms of overall survival. Further studies are warranted to evaluate the usefulness of cyclin E as a prognostic marker to identify breast cancer patients at higher risk of death from the disease when treated with adjuvant anthracycline-based therapy. (Cancer Sci 2009; 100: 1026–1033)