Quantitative analysis of TEM-8 and CEA tumor markers indicating free tumor cells in the peripheral blood of colorectal cancer patients
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Colorectal cancer (CRC) remains the third most common cancer in the world. Approximately in 50 percent of patients, metastatic disease is a major cause of death. Therefore, early diagnosis of CRC is crucial for a successful outcome. For the detection of circulating cancer cells, this study applied a sensitive method that employed specific tumor markers for early detection.
A total of 80 blood samples from 40 CRC patients and 40 age-matched healthy controls were collected for the study. The circulating mRNA levels of two CRC tumor markers, tumor endothelial marker 8 (TEM-8) and carcinoembryogenic antigen (CEA) were evaluated using an absolute quantitative real-time PCR assay in a Stratagene Mx-3000P real-time PCR system. GAPDH was used as the endogenous control.
TEM-8 and CEA were primarily detected more in the CRC patients rather than in the controls: 22/40 vs 9/40, p=0.009 and 30/40 vs 11/40, p=0.00054, respectively. In the CRC patients, the mRNA level of these markers was significantly higher in comparison to the normal controls (p=0.018 and 0.01). The overall sensitivity of this panel was 65% with a specificity of 75%. Statistical analysis for demographic variants did not reach significant values.
TEM-8 and CEA markers were detected more frequently and in significantly higher levels in the blood samples of patients compared with samples from age-matched healthy controls. The copy number of CEA and TEM-8 mRNA, as detected by a real-time quantitative PCR, appears to be a promising marker for evaluating the risk of tumor spread.
KeywordsColon cancer Real-time PCR Tumor markers TEM-8 CEA TEM-8 Q-PCR Colorectal cancer
This study was supported by a grant from the Iran National Science Foundation (#85122/68) at Mashhad University of Medical Sciences. The authors sincerely thank all of their colleagues at the Human Genetics Division of the Avicenna Research Institute who contributed in this study.
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