Y-box protein-1/p18 fragment identifies malignancies in patients with chronic liver disease

BMC Cancer. 2011 May 20;11:185. doi: 10.1186/1471-2407-11-185.


Background: Immunohistochemical detection of cold shock proteins is predictive for deleterious outcome in various malignant diseases. We recently described active secretion of a family member, denoted Y-box (YB) protein-1. We tested the clinical and diagnostic value of YB-1 protein fragment p18 (YB-1/p18) detection in blood for malignant diseases.

Methods: We used a novel monoclonal anti-YB-1 antibody to detect YB-1/p18 by immunoblotting in plasma samples of healthy volunteers (n=33), patients with non-cancerous, mostly inflammatory diseases (n=60), hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC; n=25) and advanced solid tumors (n=20). YB-1/p18 was then tested in 111 patients with chronic liver diseases, alongside established tumor markers and various diagnostic measures, during evaluation for potential liver transplantation.

Results: We developed a novel immunoblot to detect the 18 kD fragment of secreted YB-1 in human plasma (YB-1/p18) that contains the cold-shock domains (CSD) 1-3 of the full-length protein. YB-1/p18 was detected in 11/25 HCC and 16/20 advanced carcinomas compared to 0/33 healthy volunteers and 10/60 patients with non-cancerous diseases. In 111 patients with chronic liver disease, YB-1/p18 was detected in 20 samples. Its occurrence was not associated with advanced Child stages of liver cirrhosis or liver function. In this cohort, YB-1/p18 was not a good marker for HCC, but proved most powerful in detecting malignancies other than HCC (60% positive) with a lower rate of false-positive results compared to established tumor markers. Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) was most sensitive in detecting HCC, but simultaneous assessment of AFP, CA19-9 and YB-1/p18 improved overall identification of HCC patients.

Conclusions: Plasma YB-1/p18 can identify patients with malignancies, independent of acute inflammation, renal impairment or liver dysfunction. The detection of YB-1/p18 in human plasma may have potential as a tumor marker for screening of high-risk populations, e.g. before organ transplantation, and should therefore be evaluated in larger prospective studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / blood*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / complications*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / blood
  • Liver Diseases / blood*
  • Liver Diseases / complications*
  • Liver Neoplasms / blood*
  • Liver Neoplasms / complications*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Renal Insufficiency / blood
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Y-Box-Binding Protein 1 / blood*
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Y-Box-Binding Protein 1