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Clin Chim Acta. 2012 Jul 11;413(13-14):1115-20. doi: 10.1016/j.cca.2012.03.008. Epub 2012 Mar 23.

Discrimination of clinical stages in non-small cell lung cancer patients by serum HSP27 and HSP70: a multi-institutional case-control study.

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Christian Doppler Laboratory for Cardiac and Thoracic Diagnosis and Regeneration, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.



Lung cancer represents a major healthcare problem. Accordingly, there is an urgent need to identify serum biomarkers for early diagnosis of lung pathology. We have recently described that patients with manifest COPD evidence elevated levels of heat shock proteins (HSPs). Based on these data, we speculated whether HSPs are also increased in patients with diagnosed lung cancer.


Serum levels of HSP27, phospho-HSP27 (pHSP27) and HSP70 in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) diagnosed at an early (stages I-II, n=37) or advanced (stages IIIA-IV, n=72) stage were determined by using ELISA. Healthy smokers (n=24), healthy never-smoker volunteers (n=33) and COPD patients (n=34) according to GOLD classification served as control population.


Serum levels of HSP27 were elevated in patients with NSCLC diagnosed at an early or advanced stage when compared with both healthy control groups (P<0.005 and P<0.0001 respectively). Statistically significant differences were furthermore found between the groups of patients with early vs. advanced stage NSCLC (P=0.0021). Serum levels of HSP70 were also significantly elevated in patients with NSCLC diagnosed at an early or at an advanced stage when compared with either healthy control groups (P=0.0028 and P<0.0001 respectively). In univariate logistic regression models including healthy subjects and patients with NSCLC, HSP70 had an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.779 (P<0.0001) and HSP27 showed an AUC of 0.870 (P<0.0001).


Our data suggest that serum HSP27 levels might serve as a possible tool to discriminate between early and advanced stages NSCLC.

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