Detection of tumor circulating cells by cytokeratin 20 in the blood of patients with endometrial carcinoma

Ami Klein, Amiram Fishman, Ruth Zemer, Shulamit Zimlichman, Marco M. Altaras*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. Cytokeratins are constituents of the intermediate filaments of epithelial cells which are expressed in various combinations depending on the epithelial type and the degree of differentiation. Using the reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction technique (RT-PCR) we recently demonstrated that: (1) Cytokeratin 20 - the most recent discovered cytokeratin - is expressed in endometrial carcinoma tumors but not in the endometrium of patients with benign diseases, and (2) CK-20 is not expressed in blood cells. The aim of this study is to examine whether CK-20 expression in blood can be used as a biomarker for the detection of the dissemination of malignant cells in patients treated for endometrial carcinoma. Methods. In the present study, we have used RT-PCR to determine the expression of CK-20 in the peripheral blood of the following groups: (1) preop new diagnosed patients (n = 20), (2) patients with no clinical evidence of disease following completion of definitive treatment (n = 33; 17 at low risk; 16 at high risk), (3) patients with recurrent disease (n = 6), and (4) a control group of healthy subjects (n = 16). RNA was extracted from cell pellets and analysed by RT-PCR using primers for CK-20. Results. Of the 20 patients of the first group 7 (35 %) were CK-20 positive. Of the 33 patients of the second group 17 (51%) were CK-20 positive. Subdivision of this group showed that 9 of 17 (53%) were positive in the low-risk subgroup, and 8 of 16 (50%) were positive in the high-risk subgroup. All 6 patients with recurrent disease were positive, and all subjects in the control group were negative. Conclusion. These results indicate that RT-PCR of CK-20, because of its high sensitivity, is a potential biomarker for detecting metastasis in blood samples of patients with endometrial carcinoma. (C) 2000 Academic Press.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)352-355
Number of pages4
JournalGynecologic Oncology
Issue number3 I
StatePublished - 2000


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