Plasma proteasome level is a potential marker in patients with solid tumors and hemopoietic malignancies

Cancer. 2001 Nov 15;92(10):2493-500. doi: 10.1002/1097-0142(20011115)92:10<2493::aid-cncr1599>;2-f.


Background: Proteasomes are nonlysosomal proteolytic structures that have been implicated in cell growth and differentiation. Abnormal expression levels of proteasomes have been described in tumor cells, and proteasomes can be detected and measured in plasma. The objective of this study was to characterize differences in proteasome levels between normal, healthy donors and patients with neoplastic disease and to correlate the findings with clinical status and other biologic markers of disease spread.

Methods: Plasma proteasome levels were measured using a sandwich enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in normal donors (n = 73 donors) and in patients with solid tumors (n = 20 patients), acute leukemia (n = 35 patients), myeloproliferative (n = 37 patients) and myelodysplastic (n = 19 patients) syndromes, chronic lymphocytic leukemia (n = 44 patients), non-Hodgkin lymphoma (n =104 patients), Hodgkin disease (n = 14 patients), other lymphoid disorders (n = 17 patients), and multiple myeloma (n = 27 patients).

Results: In the normal donors, the plasma proteasome concentration was 2356 ng/mL +/- 127 ng/mL. Patients with solid tumors exhibited a significantly higher value (7589 ng/mL +/- 2124 ng/mL), similar to the patients with myeloproliferative (4099 ng/mL +/- 498 ng/mL) and myelodysplastic (2922 ng/mL +/- 322 ng/mL) syndromes. Patients with lymphoproliferative disorders, in contrast, had significantly lower values than normal donors (1751 ng/mL +/- 107 ng/mL), except those in aggressive phase of the disease. This low level persisted in patients who were in complete remission. Proteasome levels decreased during the initial phase of treatment. Although there was a significant correlation with serum lactic dehydrogenase levels, frequent discrepancies were noted. There was no correlation with C-reactive protein or beta2-microglobulin levels, even in the group of patients with multiple myeloma.

Conclusions: The plasma proteasome level is a potential new tool for the monitoring of patients with neoplastic disease. It is not correlated solely with cell lysis and may be involved in the pathophysiology of disease progression.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Division
  • Cysteine Endopeptidases / blood*
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multienzyme Complexes / blood*
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Multienzyme Complexes
  • Cysteine Endopeptidases
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex