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Tumour Biol. 2007;28(4):189-95. Epub 2007 Aug 23.

Cytokeratin markers come of age.

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Cancer Center Karolinska, Department of Oncology and Pathology, Karolinska Institute and Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.


Cytokeratins have been extensively used as serum tumour markers for monitoring of disease progression in cancer patients. The source of cytokeratins in the circulation as well as the mechanisms of release from cells have long been unclear. Recent evidence suggests that cytokeratins present in the circulation of cancer patients are released from apoptotic or necrotic tumour cells. CK18 is cleaved by caspases during apoptosis and a monoclonal antibody (M30) specific to caspase-cleaved forms is available. The molecular form of CK18 released from cells (caspase-cleaved or not) can conveniently be determined by immunoassays (M30-Apoptosense and M65 ELISA assays; Peviva AB, Bromma, Sweden) to determine cell death mode--apoptosis or necrosis. Recent studies where these assays were used to evaluate the response to cytotoxic anticancer drugs using cancer patient serum have been encouraging. CK18 is attracting considerable interest as a response biomarker during clinical trials of anticancer drugs. Properties such as excellent antigen stability and the epithelial specificity of cytokeratins contribute to make this biomarker attractive.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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