Soluble VEGFR-3 (sVEGFR-3) is a potential biomarker for the anti-angiogenic activity of tyrosine kinase inhibitors. The aim of this investigation was the validation of an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) to measure sVEGFR-3 in human plasma and the investigation of its applicability in clinical trials as first step of the biomarker validation process. General validation criteria were assessed based on current guidelines and recommendations for immunoassays. The ELISA was applied in two clinical trials including healthy volunteers and metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) patients receiving 50 or 37.5mg sunitinib per day, respectively. SVEGFR-3 was measured at predefined time points. Undiluted, inactivated fetal calf serum was identified as surrogate matrix to substitute for human plasma. Dilutional linearity and parallelism could be successfully confirmed. The analyte was measured in the study matrix with intra- and inter-run precision and accuracy ≤20%. Stability was proven over a period of at least 15 months as well as upon three freeze-thaw cycles. SVEGFR-3 concentrations decreased in response to sunitinib to 57% (IQR 50-88%) and 58% (IQR 47-80%) of the respective baseline concentrations in healthy volunteers and mCRC patients, respectively, with subsequent increase after stop of treatment. The ELISA for the quantification of sVEGFR-3 in human plasma was successfully validated. The applicability of the assay was demonstrated in two clinical trials.
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