Autoantibodies as potential biomarkers for the early detection of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma

Am J Gastroenterol. 2014 Jan;109(1):36-45. doi: 10.1038/ajg.2013.384. Epub 2013 Dec 3.


Objectives: Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is one of the most frequent causes of cancer death worldwide and effective diagnosis is needed. We assessed the diagnostic potential of an autoantibody panel that may benefit early diagnosis.

Methods: We analyzed data for patients with ESCC and normal controls in a test cohort and a validation cohort. Autoantibody levels were measured against a panel of six tumor-associated antigens (p53, NY-ESO-1, matrix metalloproteinase-7 (MMP-7), heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70), peroxiredoxin VI (Prx VI), and BMI1 polycomb ring finger oncogene (Bmi-1)) by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.

Results: We assessed serum autoantibodies in 513 participants: 388 with ESCC and 125 normal controls. The validation cohort comprised 371 participants: 237 with ESCC, and 134 normal controls. Autoantibodies to at least 1 of 6 antigens demonstrated a sensitivity/specificity of 57% (95% confidence interval (CI): 52-62%)/95% (95% CI: 89-98%) and 51% (95% CI: 45-57%)/96% (95% CI: 91-99%) in the test and validation cohorts, respectively. Measurement of the autoantibody panel could differentiate early-stage ESCC patients from normal controls (sensitivity 45% (95% CI: 32-59%) and specificity 95% (95% CI: 89-98%) in the test cohort; 46% (95% CI: 35-58%) and 96% (95% CI: 91-99%) in the validation cohort). In either cohort, no significant differences were seen when patients were subdivided by age, gender, smoking status, size of tumor, site of tumor, depth of tumor invasion, histological grade, lymph node status, TNM stage, or early-stage and late-stage groups.

Conclusions: Measurement of an autoantibody response to multiple tumor-associated antigens in an optimized panel assay, to help discriminate early-stage ESCC patients from normal controls, may aid in early detection of ESCC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antigens, Neoplasm* / blood
  • Antigens, Neoplasm* / classification
  • Autoantibodies* / blood
  • Autoantibodies* / classification
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / classification
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell* / immunology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell* / pathology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Early Detection of Cancer
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay / methods
  • Esophageal Neoplasms* / immunology
  • Esophageal Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Grading
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Predictive Value of Tests


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Autoantibodies
  • Biomarkers, Tumor