Efficiency of Ber-EP4 antibody for isolating circulating epithelial tumor cells before RT-PCR detection

Am J Clin Pathol. 1999 Aug;112(2):171-8. doi: 10.1093/ajcp/112.2.171.


We compared the efficacy of 4 methods for isolating circulating tumor cells: immunocapture with Ber-EP4-coated magnetic beads, density gradient separation, ammonium chloride, and distilled water-mediated erythrocyte lysis. Human blood from healthy volunteers was mixed with serial dilutions of prostate (LNCaP) and liver (HepG2) derived tumor cells. Isolation of circulating tumor cells was followed by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction with primers specific for prostate-specific antigen and alpha-fetoprotein. Ber-EP4 antigen expression was evaluated by immunohistochemistry in 27 hepatocellular carcinomas and 34 prostate adenocarcinomas. Peripheral blood samples from 12 patients with hepatocellular carcinoma and 10 with prostate adenocarcinoma also were tested. Density gradient separation and Ber-EP4 immunocapture were the most sensitive techniques for isolating circulating tumor cells in in vitro tests. Isolation by density gradient separation was significantly more sensitive than Ber-EP4 immunocapture when applied to peripheral blood samples of patients with cancer, a result consistent with the variable expression of Ber-EP4 antigen that we found by immunohistochemistry in prostate adenocarcinomas and hepatocellular carcinomas.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / blood
  • Ammonium Chloride / pharmacology
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antigens, Surface / immunology*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / immunology*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / blood
  • Centrifugation, Density Gradient / methods
  • DNA Primers / chemistry
  • DNA, Neoplasm / analysis
  • Epithelial Cells / immunology
  • Epithelial Cells / pathology
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Hemolysis / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Immunomagnetic Separation / methods*
  • Liver Neoplasms / blood
  • Male
  • Neoplastic Cells, Circulating* / immunology
  • Neoplastic Cells, Circulating* / pathology
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen / genetics
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / blood
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • alpha-Fetoproteins / genetics


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antigens, Surface
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • DNA Primers
  • DNA, Neoplasm
  • alpha-Fetoproteins
  • human epithelial antigen-125
  • Ammonium Chloride
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen