Immunoreactive a transforming growth factor activity in effusions from cancer patients as a marker of tumor burden and patient prognosis

Carlos L. Arteaga, Axel R. Hanauske, Gary M. Clark, C. Kent Osborne, Parul Hazarika, Robert L. Pardue, Fermin Tio, Daniel D. Von Hoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


a Transforming growth factors (α-TGFs) are polypeptides that stimulate anchorage-independent growth of various nontransformed cells in vitro and are believed to be involved in autocrine stimulation of tumor cells. α-TGF activity is secreted by a variety of human cancers leading to the possibility that it may serve as a tumor marker. α-TGF activity was measured in 130 effusions from patients with various types of cancer with a radioimmunoassay using sheep antibodies against the C-terminal 17 amino acids of linear rat α-TGF. Forty-two % of the effusions contained immunoreactive a transforming growth factor (Ir-α-TGF) activity, including 13 of 34 (38%) breast cancer, 12 of 24 (50%) lung cancer, and 13 of 31 (42%) ovarian cancer specimens. Concentrations ranged from 1.56 to 50 ng/ml. Only 3 of 17 control effusions from noncancer patients had low levels of activity, all less than 2 ng/ml. The presence of Ir-α-TGF activity correlated with patients' performance status (PS) and tumor burden. It was present in 18 of 67 (27%) effusions of patients with PS ≤ 2 and in 23 of 33 (70%) with PS 3 or 4 (P < 0.0001). Only 2 of 43 (4%) patients with one site of metastatic disease had detectable Ir-α-TGF (mean, 0.23 ng/ml); 18 of 37 (48%) with two sites (mean, 5.22 ng/ml, P < 0.0001); and 33 of 34 (97%) with > two sites (mean, 5.93 ng/ml, P = 0.002). It was present in a larger percentage of effusions from breast cancer patients with estrogen- and progesterone receptor-negative tumors. Univariate analysis revealed that detectable Ir-α-TGF activity, PS 3 or 4, and the number of sites of disease correlated with a shorter survival. Only Ir-α-TGF and PS 3 or 4 retained significance in a multivariate analysis. In conclusion, Ir-α-TGF is frequently detectable in effusions from cancer patients, it correlates with other known adverse prognostic factors, and its presence predicts for a poor survival. Further studies of α-TGF activity in more readily accessible body fluids such as serum or urine are warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5023-5028
Number of pages6
JournalCancer research
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 1 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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