Cytokeratin 20 mRNA in peripheral venous blood of colorectal carcinoma patients

Br J Cancer. 1998 Apr;77(8):1327-32. doi: 10.1038/bjc.1998.221.


A highly sensitive system was previously developed by us to detect the presence of colorectal carcinoma cells in blood in the form of cytokeratin 20 (CK20) mRNA. In the present study, we used an improved version of this system to analyse the peripheral blood of 28 patients with colorectal carcinoma, five patients with non-cancerous intestinal diseases and six normal controls for the presence or absence of CK20 mRNA and to investigate the relationship between the mRNA results and prognosis. All eight patients with recurrence were positive for CK20 mRNA, as were four patients in the Dukes' C stage with either distant metastasis or dissemination. Five of the nine patients in the Dukes' C stage with neither distant metastasis nor dissemination were positive, and three of these developed recurrence within 11 months after the analysis. Only one of the seven patients in the Dukes' A or B stage was positive, and none showed recurrence during the 1-19 months of observation. None of the five patients without carcinomas or of the six normal controls was positive. Although the follow-up period is limited and the recurrences were all local at present, these results suggest that the presence of CK20 mRNA in circulation may be a useful indicator for the screening of advanced colorectal carcinoma patients with a high risk of recurrence.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Carcinoma / blood*
  • Carcinoma / pathology
  • Colonic Neoplasms / blood*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Colonic Neoplasms / pathology
  • DNA Primers / chemistry
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intermediate Filament Proteins / blood*
  • Intermediate Filament Proteins / genetics
  • Keratin-20
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / blood
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / pathology
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Prognosis
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis*
  • RNA, Neoplasm / analysis
  • Rectal Neoplasms / blood*
  • Rectal Neoplasms / genetics
  • Rectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • DNA Primers
  • Intermediate Filament Proteins
  • KRT20 protein, human
  • Keratin-20
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Neoplasm