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PURPOSE: Identification of serum biomarkers enabling earlier diagnosis of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) could improve outcome. Serum protein profiles in patients with preclinical disease and at diagnosis were investigated. EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: Serum from cases up to 4 years prior to PDAC diagnosis and controls (UKCTOCS,n= 174) were studied, alongside samples from patients diagnosed with PDAC, chronic pancreatitis, benign biliary disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and healthy subjects (n= 298). Isobaric tags for relative and absolute quantification (iTRAQ) enabled comparisons of pooled serum from a test set (n= 150). Validation was undertaken using multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) and/or Western blotting in all 472 human samples and samples from a KPC mouse model. RESULTS: iTRAQ identified thrombospondin-1 (TSP-1) as reduced preclinically and in diagnosed samples. MRM confirmed significant reduction in levels of TSP-1 up to 24 months prior to diagnosis. A combination of TSP-1 and CA19-9 gave an AUC of 0.86, significantly outperforming both markers alone (0.69 and 0.77, respectively;P< 0.01). TSP-1 was also decreased in PDAC patients compared with healthy controls (P< 0.05) and patients with benign biliary obstruction (P< 0.01). Low levels of TSP-1 correlated with poorer survival, preclinically (P< 0.05) and at clinical diagnosis (P< 0.02). In PDAC patients, reduced TSP-1 levels were more frequently observed in those with confirmed diabetes mellitus (P< 0.01). Significantly lower levels were also observed in PDAC patients with diabetes compared with individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus (P= 0.01). CONCLUSIONS: Circulating TSP-1 levels decrease up to 24 months prior to diagnosis of PDAC and significantly enhance the diagnostic performance of CA19-9. The influence of diabetes mellitus on biomarker behavior should be considered in future studies.

Original publication




Journal article


Clin Cancer Res

Publication Date





1734 - 1743


Aged, Animals, Biomarkers, Tumor, Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal, Case-Control Studies, Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2, Disease Models, Animal, Early Detection of Cancer, Female, Humans, Male, Mice, Middle Aged, Neoplasm Staging, Pancreatic Neoplasms, Patient Outcome Assessment, Platelet Count, Proteomics, Reproducibility of Results, Thrombospondin 1, Time Factors