Increased trefoil factor 3 levels in the serum of patients with three major histological subtypes of lung cancer

Oncol Rep. 2012 Apr;27(4):1277-83. doi: 10.3892/or.2012.1627. Epub 2012 Jan 11.


Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer-related deaths in the world. The trefoil factor (TFF) family is composed of three thermostable, and protease-resistant proteins, named TFF1, TFF2 and TFF3. TFF protein levels have been found to be related to the development of various types of cancer. However, it is still unclear whether TFF proteins are differentially expressed in the serum of different histological subtypes of lung cancer compared to healthy individuals. In this study, we investigated the levels of TFF proteins in serum and lung tissues of 130 lung cancer patients (58 squamous cell lung carcinoma cases, 43 adenocarcinoma cases and 29 SCLC cases) and 60 healthy individuals. It was found that TFF1 and TFF2 have similar or slightly higher levels in these three subtypes of lung cancer compared to healthy individuals, while TFF3 levels were significantly higher in the examined lung cancer cases compared to healthy individuals. Immunoblot analyses of TFF1, TFF2 and TFF3 indicated that lung cancer tissues and lung cancer cell lines have a higher expression of the TFF3 protein, but not of TFF1 or TFF2 proteins, compared to tissues from healthy individuals or from the normal cell line. Quantitative RT-PCR analysis indicated higher levels of TFF3, but not TFF1 and TFF2, transcripts in lung cancer tissues or cell lines. These results show increased TFF3 levels in serum and lung tissues, suggesting that TFF3 may serve as a promising, easily detected biomarker of lung cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / blood
  • Adenocarcinoma / genetics
  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism*
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Adenocarcinoma of Lung
  • Adult
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / blood
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / blood
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • China
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / blood
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics
  • Lung Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Peptides / blood
  • Peptides / genetics
  • Peptides / metabolism*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Small Cell Lung Carcinoma / blood
  • Small Cell Lung Carcinoma / genetics
  • Small Cell Lung Carcinoma / metabolism*
  • Small Cell Lung Carcinoma / pathology
  • Trefoil Factor-1
  • Trefoil Factor-2
  • Trefoil Factor-3
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / metabolism
  • Up-Regulation
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Peptides
  • RNA, Messenger
  • TFF1 protein, human
  • TFF2 protein, human
  • TFF3 protein, human
  • Trefoil Factor-1
  • Trefoil Factor-2
  • Trefoil Factor-3
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins