Serum CD26 (sCD26) levels were previously found diminished in colorectal cancer (CRC) patients compared to healthy donors, suggesting its potential utility for early diagnosis. Therefore we aimed to estimate the utility of the sCD26 as a biomarker for CRC and advanced adenomas in a high-risk group of patients. The relationship of this molecule with polyp characteristics was also addressed.
sCD26 levels were measured by ELISA in 299 symptomatic and asymptomatic patients who had undergone a colonoscopy. Patients were diagnosed as having no colorectal pathology, non-inflammatory or inflammatory bowel disease, polyps (hyperplastic, non-advanced and advanced adenomas) or CRC.
At a 460 ng/mL cut-off, the sCD26 has a sensitivity and specificity of 81.8% (95% CI, 64.5-93.0%) and 72.3% (95% CI, 65.0-77.2%) for CRC regarding no or benign colorectal pathology. Clinicopathological analysis of polyps showed a relationship between the sCD26 and the grade of dysplasia and the presence of advanced adenomas. Hence, a 58.0% (95% CI, 46.5-68.9%) sensitivity detecting CRC and advanced adenomas was obtained, with a specificity of 75.5% (95% CI, 68.5-81.0%).
Our preliminary results show that measurement of the sCD26 is a non-invasive and reasonably sensitive assay, which could be combined with others such as the faecal occult blood test for the early diagnosis and screening of CRC and advanced adenomas. Additional comparative studies in average-risk populations are necessary.