Purpose: Colorectal cancer is an important cause of cancer deaths. Here, we focused our investigation on the beta-catenin gene which is implicated in colorectal carcinogenesis and tested whether beta-catenin mRNA is detectable in the plasma of colorectal carcinoma and adenoma patients using quantitative reverse transcriptase-PCR.
Experimental design: Plasma beta-catenin mRNA was measured from 58 colorectal carcinoma patients, 49 colorectal adenoma patients, and 43 apparently normal subjects using intron-spanning primers and Taqman probes. Five clinicopathological parameters were studied and correlated with plasma beta-catenin mRNA concentration. Additionally, 19 colorectal carcinoma patients after tumor removal were also recruited for plasma beta-catenin mRNA measurement to further demonstrate the clinical usefulness of this test.
Results: beta-catenin mRNA was detected with median concentrations of 8737 (range: 1480-933100), 1218 (range: 541-2254) and 291 (range: 0-1366) copies/ml plasma in colorectal carcinoma, colorectal adenoma, and apparently normal subjects, respectively. Statistical analysis demonstrated that plasma beta-catenin mRNA concentration was correlated to tumor stage but not sex, age, lymph node status, and degree in differentiation. Moreover, plasma beta-catenin mRNA concentration decreased significantly after tumor removal in 16 of 19 (84%) colorectal carcinoma patients.
Conclusions: We conclude that plasma beta-catenin mRNA may potentially serve as a marker for colorectal cancer.