Prognostic relevance of circulating CK19 mRNA in advanced malignant biliary tract diseases

World J Gastroenterol. 2012 Jan 14;18(2):175-81. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v18.i2.175.


Aim: To determine the role of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in prediction of the overall survival of patients with advanced malignant biliary tract obstruction.

Methods: We investigated the prognostic value of CTCs by examining two markers, cytokeratin (CK) 19 and human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) mRNA, in 40 patients diagnosed with advanced malignant biliary tract diseases. Quantitative real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction was used to detect CK19 and hTERT mRNA in the peripheral blood of these patients. Overall survival was analyzed using the Kaplan-Meier method and Cox regression modeling.

Results: Positive CK19 and hTERT mRNA expression was detected in 45% and 60%, respectively, of the 40 patients. Univariable analysis indicated that positive CK19 mRNA expression was significantly associated with worse overall survival (P = 0.009). Multivariable analysis determined that positive CK19 mRNA expression, patient's age and serum bilirubin were each independently associated with overall survival.

Conclusion: CK19 mRNA expression levels in peripheral blood appear to provide a valuable marker to predict the overall survival of patients with advanced malignant biliary tract obstruction.

Keywords: Circulating tumor cells; Cytokeratin 19; Human telomerase reverse transcriptase; Malignant biliary tract obstruction; Overall survival.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biliary Tract Diseases* / blood
  • Biliary Tract Diseases* / genetics
  • Biliary Tract Diseases* / pathology
  • Biomarkers, Tumor* / blood
  • Biomarkers, Tumor* / genetics
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Keratin-19* / blood
  • Keratin-19* / genetics
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplastic Cells, Circulating / metabolism*
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Survival Analysis
  • Telomerase* / blood
  • Telomerase* / genetics


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Keratin-19
  • TERT protein, human
  • Telomerase