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J Mol Diagn. 2003 Aug;5(3):176-83.

The c-myc x E2F-1/p21 interactive gene expression index augments cytomorphologic diagnosis of lung cancer in fine-needle aspirate specimens.

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Department of Medicine, Medical College of Ohio, Toledo, Ohio, USA.


Morphological analysis of cytologic samples obtained by fine-needle aspirate (FNA) or bronchoscopy is an important method for diagnosing bronchogenic carcinoma. However, this approach has only about 65 to 80% diagnostic sensitivity. Based on previous studies, the c-myc x E2F-1/p21WAF1/CIP1 (p21 hereafter) gene expression index is highly sensitive and specific for distinguishing normal from malignant bronchial epithelial tissues. In an effort to improve sensitivity of diagnosing lung cancer in cytologic specimens, we used Standardized Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction (StaRT-PCR) to measure the c-myc x E2F-1/p21 index in cDNA samples from 14 normal lung samples (6 normal lung parenchyma and 8 normal bronchial epithelial cell [NBEC] biopsies), and 16 FNA biopsies from 14 suspected tumors. Based on cytomorphologic criteria, 11 of the 14 suspected tumors were diagnosed as bronchogenic carcinoma and three specimens were non-diagnostic. Subsequent biopsy samples confirmed that the three non-diagnostic samples were derived from lung carcinomas. The index value for each bronchogenic carcinoma was above a cut-off value of 7000 and the index value of all but one normal sample was below 7000. Thus the c-myc x E2F-1/p21 index may augment cytomorphologic diagnosis of bronchogenic carcinoma biopsy samples, particularly those considered non-diagnostic by cytomorphologic criteria.

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