Fascin is a circulating tumor marker for head and neck cancer as determined by a proteomic analysis of interstitial fluid from the tumor microenvironment

Joseph Tung Chieh Chang*, Li Yu Lee, Yin Ju Chen, Ya Ching Lu, Chun Ta Liao, I. How Chen, Yu Chen Huang, Wen Ho Chen, Chi Che Huang, Chi Ying Tsai, Ann Joy Cheng

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

20 Scopus citations


Background: Head and neck cancer (HNC) is a prevalent cancer worldwide; however, clinically useful tumor markers for HNC have not been identified. Here, we aimed to identify secretory proteins from the tumor microenvironment as candidate circulating tumor markers. Methods: Samples derived from seven pairs of tumor interstitial fluid (TIF) and normal interstitial fluid (NIF) samples from patients with HNC were analyzed. The proteomes were determined by gel-based-mass-spectrometry proteomic methods. The most up-regulated protein, fascin was confirmed in the cancer tissues and cell culture supernatant by immunoblotting and immunohistochemistry assays. Serum fascin was determined in 40 HNC and 40 normal individuals by ELISA. Results: After proteomics analysis, 189 peptides were identified, corresponding to 75 proteins. Of the 21 proteins which were identified more than twice, five up-regulated proteins identified most frequently including fascin. The most elevated fascin was over-expressed in cancer tissues and cell culture supernatant. Serum fascin was significantly up-regulated in the cancer patients (p<0.001) and correlated with pathological lymph node metastasis (p=0.022). To assess the diagnostic efficacy, serum levels of fascin and another potential biomarker SCCA were determined. Fascin showed a high predictable value with an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.808 (95% CI 0.723-0.901) in the receiver operator curve (ROC), compared to 0.501 (95% CI 0.378-0.634) for SCCA. Conclusions: We have identified 75 potential circulating tumor markers associated with HNC, including fascin. Serum fascin could discriminate cancer patients from healthy individuals; thus, it may serve as a circulating biomarker for HNC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1631-1641
Number of pages11
JournalClinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - 01 09 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 by De Gruyter.


  • circulating tumor markers
  • fascin
  • head and neck cancer
  • tumor interstitial fluid


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