Tumor Biology

, Volume 33, Issue 5, pp 1701–1707 | Cite as

Evaluation of pleural fluid human epididymis 4 (HE4) as a marker of malignant pleural effusion

  • Mohamed Y. Elsammak
  • Adel Attia
  • Hoda A. Hassan
  • Taysser M. Zaytoun
  • Mahmoud Shorman
  • Moosa Suleman
Research Article


Pleural effusion is a commonly encountered problem in clinical practice, and pleural fluid analysis is usually the first step towards identifying the underlying etiology. Numerous studies have been published analyzing the potential utility of measuring biomarkers in pleural fluid as possible indicators of a malignant effusion; however, there are no studies that have examined the presence of human epididymis 4 (HE4) in pleural effusions. The aims of this study were to assess pleural effusion and serum concentrations of HE4 in patients with different types of pleural effusions and to evaluate the diagnostic performance of HE4 in detecting malignant pleural effusion. A prospective cohort study was carried out of 88 consecutive patients presenting with pleural effusions. The patients were divided into three groups: 22 patients with transudative effusions, 32 patients with non-malignant exudative effusions, and 34 patients with malignant pleural effusions. Blood and pleural fluid HE4 levels were measured using immunoassay. Both serum HE4 levels and pleural effusion HE4 levels were significantly higher in patients with malignant effusions than in patients with transudative or non-malignant exudative effusions. A pleural fluid HE4 cutoff value of 1,675 pmol/L was found to predict malignant pleural effusions with a diagnostic sensitivity of 85.3 % and specificity of 90.7 %. The current study reports a novel finding of increased serum and pleural fluid HE4 levels in patients with malignant effusions compared to non-malignant effusions. This finding has the potential to strengthen the diagnostic performance of tumor markers in detecting malignant pleural effusions.


Human epididymis 4 (HE4) Pleural effusion 


Conflicts of interest



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Copyright information

© International Society of Oncology and BioMarkers (ISOBM) 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mohamed Y. Elsammak
    • 1
    • 6
  • Adel Attia
    • 2
    • 9
  • Hoda A. Hassan
    • 3
    • 7
  • Taysser M. Zaytoun
    • 4
    • 8
  • Mahmoud Shorman
    • 5
  • Moosa Suleman
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Chemical PathologyKing Fahad Specialist Hospital DammamDammamSaudi Arabia
  2. 2.Department of PulmonologyKing Fahad Specialist Hospital DammamDammamSaudi Arabia
  3. 3.Department of MicrobiologyKing Fahad Specialist Hospital DammamDammamSaudi Arabia
  4. 4.Department of Critical CareKing Fahad Specialist Hospital DammamDammamSaudi Arabia
  5. 5.Department of Internal MedicineKing Fahad Specialist Hospital DammamDammamSaudi Arabia
  6. 6.Department of Chemical Pathology, Medical Research InstituteAlexandria UniversityAlexandriaEgypt
  7. 7.Department of MicrobiologyAlexandria UniversityAlexandriaEgypt
  8. 8.Department of Critical care Faculty of MedicineAlexandria UniversityAlexandriaEgypt
  9. 9.Department of Chest, Faculty of MedicineZagazig UniversityZagazigEgypt

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