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Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2011 Oct;60(10):1485-95. doi: 10.1007/s00262-011-1052-0. Epub 2011 Jun 10.

Serum levels of cytoplasmic melanoma-associated antigen at diagnosis may predict clinical relapse in neuroblastoma patients.

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  • 1Laboratory of Oncology, G. Gaslini Children's Hospital, Largo G. Gaslini 5, 16148 Genoa, Italy.


The high molecular weight melanoma-associated antigen (HMW-MAA) and the cytoplasmic melanoma-associated antigen (cyt-MAA/LGALS3BP) are expressed in melanoma. Their serum levels are increased in melanoma patients and correlate with clinical outcome. We investigated whether these molecules can serve as prognostic markers for neuroblastoma (NB) patients. Expression of cyt-MAA and HMW-MAA was evaluated by flow cytometry in NB cell lines, patients' neuroblasts ((FI)-NB), and short-term cultures of these latter cells (cNB). LGALS3BP gene expression was evaluated by RT-qPCR on (FI)-NB, cNB, and primary tumor specimens. Soluble HMW-MAA and cyt-MAA were tested by ELISA. Cyt-MAA and HMW-MAA were expressed in NB cell lines, cNB, and (FI)-NB samples. LGALS3BP gene expression was higher in primary tumors and cNB than in (FI)-NB samples. Soluble cyt-MAA, but not HMW-MAA, was detected in NB cell lines and cNBs supernatants. NB patients' serum levels of both antigens were higher than those of the healthy children. High cyt-MAA serum levels at diagnosis associated with higher incidence of relapse, independently from other known risk factors. In conclusion, both HMW-MAA and cyt-MAA antigens, and LGALS3BP gene, were expressed by NB cell lines and patients' neuroblasts, and both antigens' serum levels were increased in NB patients. Elevated serum levels of cyt-MAA at diagnosis correlated with relapse, supporting that cyt-MAA may serve as early serological biomarker to individuate patients at higher risk of relapse that may require a more careful follow-up, after being validated in a larger cohort of patients at different time-points during follow-up. Given its immunogenicity, cyt-MAA may also be a potential target for NB immunotherapy.

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