Humoral immunity directed against tumor-associated antigens as potential biomarkers for the early diagnosis of cancer

J Proteome Res. 2008 Apr;7(4):1388-94. doi: 10.1021/pr700818f. Epub 2008 Feb 27.


Over the past decade, it has been demonstrated that cancer is immunogenic, and multiple tumor antigens have been identified in cancer patients. It is now possible to potentially harness the immune response elicited by cancer growth as a potential diagnostic tool. Humoral immunity, or the development of autoantibodies against tumor-associated proteins, may be used as a marker for cancer exposure. Unlike circulating proteins that are shed by bulky tumors, serum autoantibodies are detectable even when antigen expression is minimal. This paper will review the methods used for tumor antigen discovery and overview what is known about autoantibodies targeting common cancer antigens with a focus on breast cancer. Data will be presented modeling the use of tumor antigen associated autoantibodies as a breast cancer diagnostic. The endogenous humoral immune response present in cancer patients may allow the identification of individuals exposed to the malignant transformation of somatic cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibody Formation / immunology*
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / analysis
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / immunology*
  • Autoantibodies / blood
  • Autoantibodies / immunology*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Breast Neoplasms / blood
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Breast Neoplasms / immunology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / blood
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Neoplasms / immunology


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Autoantibodies
  • Biomarkers