Protasin Possible Biomarker for Ovarian Cancer

Prostasin Could Be A Biomarker for Ovarian Cancer

Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI)

10/05/2001 By Elda Hauschildt

Prostasin has been isolated as a potential biomarker for ovarian cancer.

A serine protease normally secreted by the prostate gland, prostasin is overexpressed in epithelial ovarian cancer, North American researchers say.

"We have demonstrated prostasin's potential as a biomarker through real-time polymerase chain reaction in cancer and north epithelial cell lines and by differential staining in cancer tissue compared with normal tissue," they report.

"Finally, we demonstrated higher levels of serum prostasin in case-patients with ovarian cancer than in control subjects and declining levels of prostasin after surgery for ovarian cancer."

Investigators used microarray technology to identify overexpressed genes for secretory proteins as potential serum biomarkers and selected prostasin for further study.

"Microarray technology permits the simultaneous comparison of the expression of thousands of genes in samples to allow identification of those that are differentially expressed," they explain.

"We believe our study also demonstrates the potential value of microarray technology to identify tumour biomarkers that may have clinical usefulness."

Researchers examined prostasin expression via anti-prostasin antibodies and measured serum prostasin by an enzyme-linked immunoabsorbent assay. They note that 64 ovarian cancer patients and 137 controls were the subjects for the study.

They say that prostasin was isolated originally from human seminal fluid. It is present at the highest level in the prostate gland.

"Immunohistochemical studies have demonstrated that prostasin is localised in the epithelial cells and ducts of the prostate gland. It is postulated that prostasin is synthesised in prostate epithelial cells, secreted into the ducts and excreted into seminal fluid."

Investigators comment that the high levels found in the prostate gland suggest prostasin may perform important physiologic functions during fertilization.

"Chemically, prostasin is a trypsin-like serine proteinase."

They add that prostasin should be investigated further as a screening or tumour marker, alone and in combination with CA 125, another ovarian cancer marker.

Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Massachusetts Hospital in Boston, the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas point out that ovarian cancer is often in late stage at diagnosis and that survival is poor.

The study was supported in part by the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services; the U.S. Department of Defense; by the Adler Foundation; the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, Inc.; the Morse Family Fund; and the Natalie Phil Fund.

Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2001; 93: 1458-1464

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