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Human epididymis protein 4 (HE4) is a secreted glycoprotein that is overexpressed by serous and endometrioid ovarian carcinomas.

Department of Cancer Biology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA 02115, USA.
Cancer Research (Impact Factor: 9.28). 04/2005; 65(6):2162-9. DOI: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-04-3924
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Among the genes most commonly identified in gene expression profiles of epithelial ovarian carcinomas (EOC) is the gene for human epididymis protein 4 (HE4). To ascertain its clinical utility, we did a comprehensive assessment of HE4 protein expression in benign and malignant ovarian and nonovarian tissues by immunohistochemistry. In comparison with normal surface epithelium, which does not express HE4, we found that cortical inclusion cysts lined by metaplastic Mullerian epithelium abundantly express the protein. Its expression in tumors was restricted to certain histologic subtype: 93% of serous and 100% of endometrioid EOCs expressed HE4, whereas only 50% and 0% of clear cell carcinomas and mucinous tumors, respectively, were positive. Tissue microarrays revealed that the majority of nonovarian carcinomas do not express HE4, consistent with our observation that HE4 protein expression is highly restricted in normal tissue to the reproductive tracts and respiratory epithelium. HE4 is predicted to encode a secreted protein. Using reverse transcription-PCR, we identified ovarian cancer cell lines that endogenously overexpress HE4. Cultured medium from these cells revealed a secreted form of HE4 that is N-glycosylated. This observation is consistent with the recent report that HE4 circulates in the bloodstream of patients with EOC. Therefore, HE4 is a secreted glycoprotein that is overexpressed by serous and endometrioid EOCs. Its expression in cortical inclusion cysts suggests that formation of Mullerian epithelium is a prerequisite step in the development of some types of EOCs.

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    ABSTRACT: Human epididymis protein 4 (HE4) is a recognized biomarker in ovarian and endometrial cancer and over-expressed in pancreatic adenocarcinoma. The diagnostic value of HE4 in pancreatic adenocarcinoma remains unknown. Here we elucidate mRNA, protein and serum level of HE4 in pancreatic adenocarcinoma. HE4 mRNA level in tumor adjacent tissues and pancreatic adenocarcinoma tissues were tested by real time-PCR. Tissue microarray containing normal, adenocarcinoma, and adjacent pancreatic tissue was tested by immunohistochemistry (IHC). Serum level of HE4, carbohydrate antigen 19-9 (CA19-9), carbohydrate antigen 15-3 (CA15-3) and carbohydrate antigen 125 (CA125) were detected by ELISA assay in control and tumor patients. Further we compared the sensitivity and specificity of determining HE4, CA19-9, CA15-3, and CA125 for diagnosis of pancreatic adenocarcinoma and assessed the complementary diagnostic value of HE4, CA19-9, CA15-3 and CA125. Real time PCR showed significantly increased HE4 mRNA level in pancreatic adenocarcinoma compared with control. Result of IHC showed that HE4 significantly higher expressed in the human pancreatic carcinoma tissues than in both normal and adjacent non-tumorous pancreatic tissues, and the staining intensity is inversely correlated with the clinical stage. HE4 was highly expressed in early stage of pancreatic adenocarcinoma. Serum HE4 level is higher in cases with pancreatic adenocarcinoma than in the controls. Serum HE4 levels could research to a sensitivity of 45.83% and specificity of 93.75% when the Cutoff was set at 4.59 ng/mL. The Combined HE4 and CA19-9 increased the sensitivity to 83.33%; and interestingly, the combination of HE4 with CA15-3 led to the most powerful sensitivity of 87.5%. Combined with CA19-9 and CA15-3, HE4 could be a potential biomarker to improve the diagnostic power for pancreatic adenocarcinoma.
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