Serum anti-p53 autoantibodies in lung cancer, pleural mesothelioma and non-malignant lung diseases

M Neri, BSc,a, PG Betta, MD, b, R Libener, BSc, b, S Orecchia, BSc, PhD, b, P Marroni, BSc, c, R Filiberti, BSc, a, A Ardizzoni, MD d, C Mereu, MD, e, R Puntoni, BSc, a, M Paganuzzi, BSc, c

aEnvironmental Epidemiology, c Clinical Pathology, d Medical Oncology and e Thoracic Endoscopy Units, National Cancer Research Institute, Genoa, Italy, b Pathology Unit, Department of Oncology, Azienda Sanitaria Ospedaliera, Alessandria, Italy

Alterations of the p53 gene may lead to the production of detectable autoantibodies (p53-Abs) in lung cancer (LC) and pleural malignant mesothelioma (MM). Four groups of subjects were analysed by ELISA for serum p53-Abs, in the framework of a molecular epidemiologic study. Eight/48 LC (16.7%) and 2/30 MM (6.7%) were seropositive. P53-Abs were under the level of detection in all 51 healthy controls (HC). Two/55 RC (3.6%; at-risk controls with non-malignant respiratory pathology, mainly asbestosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, associated with increased risk of pleuropulmonary neoplasms) were positive and were not subsequently diagnosed any cancer, while five seronegative controls were diagnosed a tumor during follow-up. The difference was statistically significant between LC and RC or HC (p=0.01), but not between MM and any other group. No correlation was found with age, sex, cancer stage or histology, cigarette smoking or occupational exposure. No association could be established between serum p53-Abs and immunohistochemically detected p53 expression in tumor tissue in a subgroup of 6 MM. During the study period, 45/48 LC and 22/30 MM patients died. A longer survival (not significant) was shown in seropositive LC but not MM. In conclusion, the presence of detectable p53 Abs in serum was associated in a significant proportion of cases with LC and occasionally with MM. The longer survival among positive LC patients and the presence of two seropositive among patients with non-neoplastic respiratory diseases should be further investigated.

KEY WORDS: asbestosis , .

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Paper presented at the International Symposium on Predictive Oncology and Intervention Strategies; Paris, France; February 9 - 12, 2002; in the section on Environment and Occupation.