The Thomsen-Friedenreich Antigen: A Highly Sensitive and Specific Predictor of Microsatellite Instability in Gastric Cancer

J Clin Med. 2018 Sep 5;7(9):256. doi: 10.3390/jcm7090256.


Microsatellite instability (MSI) is a distinct molecular subtype of gastric cancer. In recent years, the clinical consequences of MSI and the therapeutic opportunities to target this peculiar cancer subtype became evident. However, despite the importance of MSI for the stratification of patients, the time and resources required for diagnosis still present an obstacle. In an attempt to identify a new marker for MSI in gastric cancer, we evaluated the expression of five cancer-associated glycan epitopes in a cohort of 13 MSI and 17 microsatellite stable (MSS) cases. Our analysis revealed a highly significant (p < 0.001) association between the expression of the Thomsen-Friedenreich (TF) antigen and MSI status. Hence, we present here the identification of the first single marker for MSI in gastric cancer, excelling with a specificity of 94% (16/17), sensitivity of 69.2% (9/13), negative predictive value of 80% (16/20), and positive predictive value of 90% (9/10). The TF antigen, detected by simple antibody-based assays, is highly specific for carcinoma being undetectable in gastric healthy and premalignant epithelia. This finding lays the basis for new studies and holds promise in improving the rapid identification of MSI in the clinical setting.

Keywords: O-glycan truncation; cancer biomarker; gastric cancer; glycosylation; microsatellite instability; mucin type glycans.