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Int J Biol Markers. 2008 Apr-Jun;23(2):69-73.

Parallel assessment of circulatory cell-free DNA by PCR and nucleosomes by ELISA in breast tumors.

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  • 1Laboratory for Prenatal Medicine and Gynecologic Oncology, Women's Hospital/Department of BioMedicine, University of Basel, Basel - Switzerland.



In order to assess the potential biomolecules for breast cancer, we analyzed in parallel the levels of cell-free glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) and cell-free nucleosomes in serum samples from patients with benign and malignant breast tumors. The levels of cell-free DNA obtained by quantitative PCR were compared with those obtained by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).


Twenty-three patients with benign breast tumors, 27 patients with breast cancer, and 32 age-matched healthy women were recruited. The amounts of serum nucleosomes were analyzed by ELISA and the levels of cell-free GAPDH were measured by real-time quantitative PCR. The correlation between nucleosome and cell-free GAPDH levels was examined using the Spearman rank test.


The levels of cell-free GAPDH were significantly higher in the serum samples of patients with benign and malignant breast tumors than in those of the control group (median 37,966 GE/mL, range 3,802-130,104 versus 11,770 GE/mL, range 2,198-73,522, p=0.035 and median 40,698 GE/mL, range 3,644-192,482 versus 11,770 GE/mL range 2,198-73,522, p=0.001). The concentration of cell-free GAPDH correlated significantly with the quantities of nucleosomes in serum samples (r=0.451, p=0.000). There was, however, no significant difference between healthy individuals and women with benign breast tumors or breast cancer in terms of nucleosomes determined by ELISA.


Our data suggest that the cell-free serum GAPDH DNA assayed by quantitative PCR is a better biomarker than nucleosomes assayed by ELISA in patients with breast tumors.

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