The role of circulating anti-p53 antibodies in patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer and their correlation to clinical parameters and survival

BMC Cancer. 2004 Sep 14;4:66. doi: 10.1186/1471-2407-4-66.


Background: Lung cancer causes approximately one million deaths each year worldwide and protein p53 has been shown to be involved in the intricate processes regulating response to radiation and/or chemotherapeutic treatment. Consequently, since antibodies against p53 (anti-p53 antibodies) are associated with mutations within the p53 gene it seems likely that these antibodies could, hypothetically, be correlated with prognosis.

Methods: Serum samples from patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) admitted to the Department of Oncology, University Hospital, Uppsala, Sweden, during 1983-1996 were studied. Anti-p53 abs were measured using a sandwich ELISA (Dianova, Hamburg, Germany).

Results: The present study included 84 patients with stage IIIA-IV (advanced NSCLC). At least three serum samples from each patient were collected and altogether 529 serum samples were analysed for the presence of anti-p53 antibodies. The median value of anti-p53 antibodies was 0.06 (range 0 - 139.8). Seventeen percent of investigated NSCLC first serum samples (n = 84) expressed elevated levels of anti-p53 antibodies. Anti-p53 antibodies were not correlated to tumour volume or platelets. Survival analysis showed that anti-p53 antibodies were not associated with survival as revealed by univariate analysis (p = 0.29). However, patients with adenocarcinoma had a significantly poorer survival if they expressed anti-p53 antibodies (p = 0.01), whereas this was not found for patients with squamous cell carcinoma (p = 0.13). In patients where the blood samples were collected during radiation therapy, a statistically significant correlation towards poorer survival was found (p = 0.05) when elevated anti-p53 antibodies levels were present. No correlations to survival were found for serum samples collected prior to radiation therapy, during chemotherapy, or during follow-up. When anti-p53 antibodies were measured continuously, no increase in median anti-p53 values was observed the closer the individual patient come to death.

Conclusion: The result of the present retrospective study indicates that anti-p53 antibodies are not suitable for predictions concerning selection of patients with a more favourable outcome. Further prospective studies are, though, needed to fully elucidate this issue.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / immunology
  • Antibodies / blood*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / immunology*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / immunology
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Male
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Survival Analysis
  • Survival Rate
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / immunology*


  • Antibodies
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53