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Int J Biol Markers. <> 2005
Detection of circulating CEA-IgM complexes in early stage colorectal cancer.
Castaldi F
1, Marino M
, Beneduce L
, Belluco C
, De Marchi F
, Mammano E
, Nitti D
, Lise M
, Fassina G
Author information <>

We have recently shown that alpha fetoprotein (AFP) and squamous cell
carcinoma antigen (SCCA), biomarkers associated with hepatocellular
carcinoma, may be detected in patient sera as circulating immune complexes
with IgM, and that assessment of serum levels of AFP-IgM and SCCA-IgM may
be used for the detection of liver cancer. In this study we measured the
levels of carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) as free form (FCEA) and complexed
to IgMs (CEA-IgM) in sera of patients affected by colorectal carcinoma
(CRC) at different stages as well as in healthy subjects. FCEA levels were
above the 5 ng/mL cutoff in 43% of CRC patients (31/72) and CEA-IgM levels
were above the 200 AU/mL cutoff in 38% of CRC patients (27/72). Serum
levels of CEA-IgM immune complexes (IC) and FCEA did not overlap and 64% of
patients (46/72) were positive for at least one marker without compromising
the detection specificity (94%). Early detection of CRC was significantly
improved by CEA-IgM IC assay. CRC patients at an early stage (stage 1) had
elevated CEA-IgM levels in 29% of cases (7/24), while FCEA levels were
elevated in only 8% of cases (2/24). These results indicate that CEA-IgM is
a complementary serological marker to FCEA which is much more sensitive for
early stage CRC, and that the combination of these biomarkers may be useful
in the early detection of colorectal cancer.
PMID: 16398401