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Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2009 Oct;58(10):1535-44. doi: 10.1007/s00262-009-0733-4. Epub 2009 Jun 28.

A systematic review of humoral immune responses against tumor antigens.

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Department of Applied Tumor Biology, Institute of Pathology, University of Heidelberg, Im Neuenheimer Feld 220, 69120, Heidelberg, Germany.


This review summarizes studies on humoral immune responses against tumor-associated antigens (TAAs) with a focus on antibody frequencies and the potential diagnostic, prognostic, and etiologic relevance of antibodies against TAAs. We performed a systematic literature search in Medline and identified 3,619 articles on humoral immune responses and TAAs. In 145 studies, meeting the inclusion criteria, humoral immune responses in cancer patients have been analyzed against over 100 different TAAs. The most frequently analyzed antigens were p53, MUC1, NY-ESO-1, c-myc, survivin, p62, cyclin B1, and Her2/neu. Antibodies against these TAAs were detected in 0-69% (median 14%) of analyzed tumor patients. Antibody frequencies were generally very low in healthy individuals, with the exception of few TAAs, especially MUC1. For several TAAs, including p53, Her2/neu, and NY-ESO-1, higher antibody frequencies were reported when tumors expressed the respective TAA. Antibodies against MUC1 were associated with a favorable prognosis while antibodies against p53 were associated with poor disease outcome. These data suggest different functional roles of endogenous antibodies against TAAs. Although data on prediagnostic antibody levels are scarce and antibody frequencies for most TAAs are at levels precluding use in diagnostic assays for cancer early detection, there is some promising data on achieving higher sensitivity for cancer detection using panels of TAAs.

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