Serum Protein-Bound Carbohydrates and Other Glycoprotein Assays as Indicators of Tumor Burden,
ARMED FORCES RADIOBIOLOGY RESEARCH INST BETHESDA MD
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Elevations in serum glycoproteins and protein-bound carbohydrates PBC are significant consequences of radiation damage, trauma, and certain disease states such as cancer. Thus, it is important to determine the diagnostic, prognostic, and functional significance of the glycoprotein elevations in various injuries and diseases. Levels of glycoprotein-associated carbohydrates neutral hexoses, hexosamines, sialic acid, and fucose were determined in the serum of patients with either local, regional or metastatic cancer, patients clinically cured of cancer, and controls smokers and nonsmokers. Total protein-bound carbohydrates were compared to levels of 17 normal serum glycoproteins, carcinoembryonic antigen CEA, and to lymphocyte reactivity to phytohemagglutinin PHA. Tumor burden was directly related to protein-bound carbohydrate levels in patient groups. Levels of bound carbohydrates reflect the sum of all the changes in serum glycoproteins, but primarily changes in the acute-phase proteins alpha 1-acid glycoprotein, alpha 1-antitrypsin, haptoglobin, and ceruloplasmin found in the alpha-globulin fraction of serum. Serum protein-bound carbohydrates, such as sialic acid, appear to be better tumor markers than CEA in patients with various types of solid malignancies. Increases in sialic acid in tumor-bearers do not appear to correlate with increases in CEA, suggesting that a nonspecific tumor marker and a tumor-derived marker may complement each other in assessing patient status.