Background: Biomarkers allowing the characterization of malignancy and therapy response of oral squamous cell carcinomas (OSCC) or other types of carcinomas are still outstanding. The biochemical suicide molecule endonuclease DNaseX (DNaseI-like 1) has been used to identify the Apo10 protein epitope that marks tumor cells with abnormal apoptosis and proliferation. The transketolase-like protein 1 (TKTL1) represents the enzymatic basis for an anaerobic glucose metabolism even in the presence of oxygen (aerobic glycolysis/Warburg effect), which is concomitant with a more malignant phenotype due to invasive growth/metastasis and resistance to radical and apoptosis inducing therapies.
Methods: Expression of Apo10 and TKTL1 was analysed retrospectively in OSCC specimen (n = 161) by immunohistochemistry. Both markers represent independent markers for poor survival. Furthermore Apo10 and TKTL1 have been used prospectively for epitope detection in monocytes (EDIM)-blood test in patients with OSCC (n = 50), breast cancer (n = 48), prostate cancer (n = 115), and blood donors/controls (n = 74).
Results: Positive Apo10 and TKTL1 expression were associated with recurrence of the tumor. Multivariate analysis demonstrated Apo10 and TKTL1 expression as an independent prognostic factor for reduced tumor-specific survival. Apo10+/TKTL1+ subgroup showed the worst disease-free survival rate in OSCC.EDIM-Apo10 and EDIM-TKTL1 blood tests allowed a sensitive and specific detection of patients with OSCC, breast cancer and prostate cancer before surgery and in after care. A combined score of Apo10+/TKTL1+ led to a sensitivity of 95.8% and a specificity of 97.3% for the detection of carcinomas independent of the tumor entity.
Conclusions: The combined detection of two independent fundamental biophysical processes by the two biomarkers Apo10 and TKTL1 allows a sensitive and specific detection of neoplasia in a noninvasive and cost-effective way. Further prospective trials are warranted to validate this new concept for the diagnosis of neoplasia and tumor recurrence.