Mesothelioma diagnosis for most patients occurs when the disease is far along, which for them usually means mesothelioma survival isn’t going to extend beyond a few months.
So the goal for mesothelioma specialists is to give you a diagnosis as early as possible. Early diagnosis permits treatment at the stage when it’s most effective and likeliest to produce lengthy survival.
One way researchers think early diagnosis of mesothelioma can be accomplished is by testing for molecular biomarkers.
The trouble is that currently there are no truly reliable biomarkers for establishing a mesothelioma diagnosis.
But that may soon change, if research from Okayama Rosai Hospital in Japan holds up. In the online journal PLOS One, a team of investigators say they believe soluble CD26 (sCD26) levels could be the clinically useful biomarker for which mesothelioma specialists have been searching.
Not only that, but, in addition to serving as a very early diagnostic aid, sCD26 might also prove useful as a mesothelioma survival predictor. Or it could even serve as a tool to tell if you are likely to later develop mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma Study Examines Levels of sCD26
In their study, the researchers noted that sCD26 levels sharply drop below normal when mesothelioma is present.
“We showed that CD26 is preferentially expressed on malignant mesothelioma cells, but not on normal mesothelial cells,” writes lead author Nobukazu Fujimoto, M.D.
According to the researchers, CD26 is a 110 kDa, multifunctional, membrane-bound glycoprotein.
CD26 is characterized by dipeptidyl peptidase IV — DPPIV — enzyme activity in its extracellular domain. This makes it a marker of T-cell activation, which occurs as a routine function of tumor behavior.
The researchers say they arrived at their opinions about sCD26 and its associated DPPIV enzyme activity by conducting a study that involved malignant pleural mesothelioma specimens from 80 patients.
The patients were diagnosed and treated between 1998 and 2013. Their median age was 69. All but five of them were men. And all but five had an occupational history of asbestos exposure, the median for which was 34 years.
In addition to this cohort of 80, the researchers also assembled a control group of 213 individuals who had some form of pleural disease other than malignant pleural mesothelioma. Of this control group, 79 had been exposed to asbestos.
Samples of serum and pleural fluid were collected from all of the patients and measured by chemiluminescent enzyme immunoassay.
The sCD26 Study Findings
The findings led the researchers to conclude that sCD26 levels may reflect impaired immune functions during the development and progression of pleural mesothelioma.
They conceded, however, that there might be an alternative explanation.
“DPPIV activity is one of the so-called adipokines, which are produced and released from adipose tissue,” they wrote. Adipose tissue is body fat.
“These adipokines are increased in obesity and reduced after weight loss, and are potential biomarkers of metabolic syndrome,” not necessarily mesothelioma, they continued.
“The relationship between decreased sCD26 and weight loss due to the development or progression of malignant pleural mesothelioma should be clarified in future investigations.”
The researchers also called for future investigations to clarify the clinical usefulness of sCD26 levels in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma.