Serum YKL-40 and colorectal cancer

Br J Cancer. 1999 Mar;79(9-10):1494-9. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6690238.


YKL-40 is a mammalian member of the chitinase protein family. Although the function of YKL-40 is unknown, the pattern of its expression suggests a function in remodelling or degradation of extracellular matrix. High serum YKL-40 has been found in patients with recurrent breast cancer and has been related to short survival. In the present study we analysed YKL-40 in preoperative sera from patients with colorectal cancer and evaluated its relation to survival. Serum YKL-40 was determined by RIA in 603 patients. Survival after operation was registered, and median follow-up time was 61 months. Three hundred and forty patients died. Sixteen per cent of the patients with Dukes' A, 26% with Dukes' B, 19% with Dukes' C and 39% with Dukes' D had high serum YKL-40 levels (adjusted for age). Analysis of serum YKL-40 as a continuous variable showed an association between increased serum YKL-40 and short survival (P < 0.0001). Patients with high preoperative serum YKL-40 concentration had significantly shorter survival than patients with normal YKL-40 (HR = 1.7; 95% CI: 1.3-2.1, P < 0.0001). Multivariate Cox analysis including serum YKL-40, serum CEA, Dukes' stage, age and gender showed that high YKL-40 was an independent prognostic variable for short survival (HR = 1.4; 95% CI: 1.1-1.8, P = 0.007). These results suggest that YKL-40 may play an important role in tumour invasion.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipokines
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood*
  • Carcinoembryonic Antigen / blood
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chitinase-3-Like Protein 1
  • Colonic Neoplasms / blood*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Female
  • Glycoproteins / blood*
  • Humans
  • Lectins
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Rectal Neoplasms / blood*
  • Rectal Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Rectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Survival Analysis


  • Adipokines
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • CHI3L1 protein, human
  • Carcinoembryonic Antigen
  • Chitinase-3-Like Protein 1
  • Glycoproteins
  • Lectins