Cathepsin B/cystatin C complex levels in sera from patients with lung and colorectal cancer

Biol Chem. 2001 May;382(5):805-10. doi: 10.1515/BC.2001.097.


A sandwich-type ELISA has been developed for quantification of the complex between the cysteine proteinase cathepsin B (CB) and its reversible tight-binding inhibitor cystatin C (CC) in normal and pathological sera. The assay is based on a combination of catching Ab (3E1), raised against CB, and a horseradish peroxidase-labelled detection Ab (1A2), raised against CC. Only the CB/CC complex is able to evoke a signal in this assay. The detection limit of the assay was 15.5 nM and the working range between 31.3-200 nM. The within and between-run coefficients of variance (CV) varied from 4.7% to 9.4% and 11% to 12.8%, respectively, demonstrating satisfactory reproducibility of the method. The concentration of the CB/CC complex was determined in sera from 90 healthy controls, 32 patients with non-cancerous lung diseases, 148 patients with lung and 32 patients with colorectal cancer. The CB/CC complex was significantly less abundant in sera of patients bearing malignant lung tumours than in those with non-cancerous lung diseases or healthy controls (p<0.001). In colorectal cancer sera its level was significantly lower in advanced stages C and D than in early Dukes' stages A and B (p=0.02). Our results show that the increased levels of CB in malignant sera are not impaired effectively by CC and support the hypothesis of hindered inhibitory capability during cancer progression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cathepsin B / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Cathepsin B / blood*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / blood
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Cystatin C
  • Cystatins / blood*
  • Cysteine Proteinase Inhibitors / blood*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay / standards
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / blood
  • Lung Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Protein Binding
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • CST3 protein, human
  • Cystatin C
  • Cystatins
  • Cysteine Proteinase Inhibitors
  • Cathepsin B