A critical review of the use of Clara cell secretory protein (CC16) as a biomarker of acute or chronic pulmonary effects

Biomarkers. 2007 Sep-Oct;12(5):445-67. doi: 10.1080/13547500701359327.


Biomarkers associated with asthma aetiology and exacerbation have been sought to shed light on this multifactorial disease. One candidate is the serum concentration of the Clara cell secretory protein (CC16, sometimes referred to as CC10 or uteroglobin). In this review, we examine serum CC16's relation to asthma aetiology and exacerbation. There is evidence that acute exposures to certain pulmonary irritants can cause a transient increase in serum CC16 levels, and limited evidence also suggests that a transient increase in serum CC16 levels can be caused by a localized pulmonary inflammation. Research also indicates that a transient increase in serum CC16 is not associated with measurable pulmonary damage or impairment of pulmonary function. The biological interpretation of chronic changes in serum CC16 is less clear. Changes in serum CC16 concentrations (either transient or chronic) are not specific to any one agent, disease state, or aetiology. This lack of specificity limits the use of serum CC16 as a biomarker of specific exposures. To date, many of the critical issues that must be understood before serum CC16 levels can have an application as a biomarker of effect or exposure have not been adequately addressed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Asthma / blood
  • Asthma / etiology
  • Biomarkers / blood*
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases / blood*
  • Lung Diseases / diagnosis
  • Pneumonia / blood
  • Pneumonia / etiology
  • Uteroglobin / blood*
  • Uteroglobin / physiology


  • Biomarkers
  • SCGB1A1 protein, human
  • Uteroglobin