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Onco Targets Ther. 2012;5:417-23. doi: 10.2147/OTT.S36366. Epub 2012 Nov 30.

Prognostic value of ferritin, neuron-specific enolase, lactate dehydrogenase, and urinary and plasmatic catecholamine metabolites in children with neuroblastoma.

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Clinical Pathology Laboratory Unit, Giannina Gaslini Institute, Genoa, Italy.


Different plasma and urinary parameters have been tested as valuable prognostic markers for children with neuroblastoma (NB), but conclusive results from multivariate analyses are still lacking. Samples collected at diagnosis from 505 patients diagnosed in Italy between June 1994 and November 2010 were analyzed at the Italian reference laboratory according to standard methodologies. Patient clinical data were retrieved from the Italian NB Registry. For statistical analysis, patients were grouped according to stage, age, MYCN status, and outcome. Cumulative survival was calculated by the Kaplan-Meier procedure using the first quartile of the marker distribution as a cut-off value to stratify the patients. Multivariate analysis was performed by the Cox regression model by considering only the significant variables. When the entire cohort of patients was considered, none of the different parameters had an independent prognostic value. However, in patients with localized disease without MYCN amplification the significant positive associations between urinary and plasmatic vanillylmandelic acid (VMA)/homovanillic acid (HVA) ratio and a better prognosis remained significant (P < 0.05 and P < 0.01, respectively), as well as, the positive association between high lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) values and a worse prognosis (P < 0.001). Moreover, in stage 4 patients without MYCN amplification, neuron-specific enolase levels above 200 ng/mL and LDH levels above 2500 IU/mL maintained their significant association with a worse outcome (P = 0.01 and P = 0.0001, respectively). In conclusion, LDH had an independent prognostic value in patients of all stages without MYCN amplification. Moreover, the urinary and plasmatic VMA/HVA ratio was an independent predictor of prognosis in patients with localized disease without MYCN amplification. Since LDH and catecholamine metabolites are measured in all patients at diagnosis, these findings may be helpful for an easy, cost-effective, patient risk stratification.


markers; neuroblastoma; prognosis

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