Molecular detection of dopamine decarboxylase expression by means of reverse transcriptase and polymerase chain reaction in bone marrow and peripheral blood: utility as a tumor marker for neuroblastoma

Diagn Mol Pathol. 2004 Sep;13(3):135-43. doi: 10.1097/01.pdm.0000128699.14504.06.


A highly sensitive molecular method was used to evaluate the presence of dopamine decarboxylase (DDC) mRNA in the bone marrow and peripheral blood of patients with neuroblastoma (NB). DDC, like tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), is an enzyme involved in the catecholamine synthesis pathway and has recently been proposed as a specific marker of NB among pediatric malignancies. DDC transcript was detected in five of five NB cell lines, 10 of 10 NB primary tumors, 17 of 18 (94%) bone marrow samples, and 12 of 18 (66%) blood samples drawn at diagnosis in 18 patients affected by disseminated NB. In contrast, no PCR signal was found in 20 bone marrow samples obtained from patients with other malignancies or in eight of nine marrow and blood samples drawn from patients with localized NB (two stage 2 and seven stage 3). In addition, all marrow and blood samples obtained from NB patients at relapse revealed DDC mRNA. Furthermore, the percentage of DDC-positive samples was lower among the samples drawn from these patients during treatment. By comparison with conventional methods for disease evaluation, DDC transcript research can increase the sensitivity of NB cell detection in marrow and blood samples at diagnosis and during the treatment and follow-up of NB patients. These results suggest that finding DDC mRNA in NB patients could be a potential marker for minimal residual disease study.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis*
  • Bone Marrow / enzymology
  • CD56 Antigen / metabolism
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dopa Decarboxylase / analysis*
  • Dopa Decarboxylase / biosynthesis*
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Neuroblastoma / enzymology*
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction*
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase / analysis
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase / biosynthesis


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • CD56 Antigen
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase
  • Dopa Decarboxylase