MUC4 and MUC5AC are highly specific tumour-associated mucins in biliary tract cancer.

Alterations in epithelial mucin expression are associated with carcinogenesis, but there are few data in biliary tract cancer (BTC). In pancreatic malignancy, MUC4 is a diagnostic and prognostic tumour marker, whereas MUC5AC has been proposed as a sensitive serological marker for BTC. We assessed MUC4 and MUC5AC expression in (i) prospectively collected bile and serum specimens from 72 patients with biliary obstruction (39 BTC) by real-time reverse transcriptase-PCR (qPCR) and western blot analysis, and (ii) 79 archived biliary tissues (69 BTC) by immunohistochemistry. In bile, MUC4 protein was detected in 27% of BTC and 29% of primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) cases, but not in other benign and malignant biliary diseases (P<0.01 and P=0.06). qPCR revealed a 1.9-fold increased MUC4 mRNA expression in BTC patients' bile compared with benign disease. In archived tissues, MUC4 protein was detected in 37% of BTC but in none of the benign samples (P=0.03). In serum, MUC5AC was found exclusively in BTC and PSC sera (44% and 13%, respectively; P<0.001 for BTC vs non-BTC) and correlated negatively with BTC survival. Biliary MUC4 and serum MUC5AC are highly specific tumour-associated mucins that may be useful in the diagnosis and formulation of therapeutic strategies in BTC.

Adiguzel Z, Andreola F, Batra SK, Deheragoda M, Loh A, Matull WR, Pereira SP, Qureshi U, Swallow DM


Br. J. Cancer, 2008, 98 (10)

Version 5.1.0