Comparative proteomics identified the vitamin Ebinding plasma protein afamin as a potential novel tumor marker for ovarian cancer. In addition, we observed in a previous small study decreased plasma concentrations of apolipoprotein A-IV (apoA-IV) in preoperative patients with kidney cancer. The aim of this study was therefore to analyze afamin and apoA-IV in a large case-control study to evaluate the diagnostic utility of the two potential novel tumor markers in ovarian cancer patients. We measured plasma concentrations of afamin and apoA-IV by means of a specific sandwich-type ELISA using affinity-purified polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies in 181 ovarian cancer patients of various clinical stages, 399 patients with benign gynecologic diseases, including endometriosis, and 177 controls and compared results with those for the conventional ovarian cancer tumor marker cancer antigen 125(CA125 ). Afamin concentrations decreased from a median of 70.7 mg/L (range, 34.6-116.1 mg/L) in healthy controls to 65.2 mg/L (range, 20.2-206.6 mg/L) in patients with benign gynecologic diseases to 56.0 mg/L (range, 4.7-96.0 mg/L) in ovarian cancer patients (P < 0.001 for all pairwise comparisons). Similar results were obtained with apoA-IV concentrations decreasing from 13.0 mg/dL (range, 5.5-34.0 mg/dL) in controls to 11.7 mg/dL (range, 2.0-32.3 mg/dL) in benign conditions to 9.4 mg/dL (range, 0.3-29.5 mg/dL) in ovarian cancer (all P < 0.001). Receiver operating characteristic analysis for differentiating ovarian cancer patients from healthy controls revealed for a specificity of 90% sensitivity values of 92.4%, 42.4%, and 40.8% for CA125, afamin, and apoA-IV, respectively. Afamin, but not apoA-IV, added independent diagnostic information to CA125and age for differentiating ovarian cancer from benign and healthy samples; the odds ratio of ovarian cancer was reduced by 44% for each doubling of afamin (P = 0.032). The relatively low sensitivity, however, clearly indicates that afamin and apoA-IV alone are not sufficiently suitable as diagnostic markers for ovarian cancer. Afamin contributes, however, independent diagnostic information to CA125, thus establishing its potential as an adjunct marker to CA125.
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