Extracellular sulfatases as potential blood-based biomarkers for early detection of lung cancer

This article was originally published here

Exp Lung Res. 2021 Apr 28:1-19. doi: 10.1080/01902148.2021.1885525. Online ahead of print.


PURPOSE: Non-small lung (NSCLC) is the deadliest cancer, with survival measured in months. Earlier diagnosis using a robust biomarker would likely improve survival. This study aims to determine whether blood levels of the extracellular sulfatases (SULF1 and SULF2) and their bio-activity can serve as novel biomarkers for NSCLC early detection.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Using human plasma specimens from NSCLC patients, nonmalignant COPD patients, and healthy individuals, we determined the association between plasma SULF levels and the presence of NSCLC. We assessed the plasma SULF levels as a function of sex and age. We also evaluated the plasma levels of heparin-binding factors potentially mobilized by the SULFs. To increase test specificity of blood SULF2 as a biomarker for the early diagnosis of NSCLC, we investigated the presence of a tumor-specific SULF2 isoform released in the blood, which could be used as a biomarker alone or in multiplex assays.

RESULTS: The median level of plasma SULF2 was significantly elevated in NSCLC patients than in healthy controls (∼2 fold). However, these data were confounded by age. Surprisingly, COPD patients also showed a dramatically increased SULF2 plasma level. We showed a significant increase in the median plasma levels of several HSPG-binding factors in early-stage NSCLC patients compared to controls. Furthermore, we revealed a significant positive correlation of the SULF2 protein level with the plasma levels of two HSPG-binding factors IL6 and IL8. We demonstrated that NSCLC cancer cells and tissues overexpress a SULF2 splice variant. We determined the presence of a SULF2 splice variant form in NSCLC plasma, which was not detectable in COPD and control plasmas.

CONCLUSION: Our findings highlight the potential for the plasma levels of SULF2 protein and its bio-activity as novel blood biomarkers for early diagnosis of NSCLC.

PMID:33908819 | DOI:10.1080/01902148.2021.1885525