OBJECTIVE: To identify serum biomarkers of papillary thyroid cancer.
METHODS: Prospective analysis was performed of banked tumor and serum specimens from 99 patients with thyroid masses. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was employed to measure levels of five serum proteins previously demonstrated to be up-regulated in papillary thyroid cancer (PTC): angiopoietin-1 (Ang-1), cytokeratin 19 (CK-19), tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1 (TIMP-1), chitinase 3 like-1 (YKL-40), and galectin-3 (GAL-3). Serum levels were compared between patients with PTC and those with benign tumors.
RESULTS: A total of 99 patients were enrolled in the study (27 men, 72 women), with a median age of 54 years. Forty-three patients had PTC and 58 cases were benign tumors. There were no statistically significant differences when comparing all five different biomarkers between PTC and other benign thyroid tumors. The p-values were 0.94, 0.48, 0.72, 0.48, and 0.90 for YKL-40, Gal-3, CK19, TIMP-1, and Ang-1, respectively.
CONCLUSIONS: Serum levels of four of the five proteins were elevated in patients with thyroid masses relative to normal values. However, the difference between benign and PTC was not significant. Two of the markers (Gal-3 & TIMP-1) displayed a greater potential difference, which may warrant further investigation. This study suggests that other serum markers should be sought. This is the first study to investigate potential serum biomarkers based on over-expressed proteins in thyroid cancer versus benign pathology.