MN/CA9: a potential gene marker for detection of malignant cells in effusions

Biomarkers. 2007 Mar-Apr;12(2):214-20. [Link]

Li G, Passebosc-Faure K, Feng G, Lambert C, Cottier M, Gentil-Perret A, Fournel P, Pérol M, Genin C.

Laboratory of Clinical Immunology, North Hospital, CHU of Saint-Etienne, France.


Many cancers cause malignant effusions. The presence of malignant cells in effusions has implications in diagnosis, tumour staging and prognosis. The detection of malignant cells currently presents a challenge for cytopathologists. New adjunctive methods are needed. Although the effusions provide excellent materials for molecular assay, the available molecular markers are extremely limited, which hinders its clinical application. MN/CA9 has proved to be a valuable marker in many cancers such as lung, breast, colon, kidney, etc. The present study was to evaluate MN/CA9 as a new molecular marker for the detection of cancer cells in pleural effusions. Seventy-one pleural effusions including 59 malignant effusions from patients with cancer, and 12 patients with benign diseases as a control, were subjected to RT-PCR for detection of MN/CA9 gene expression. MN/CA9 gene expression was detected in 53/59 (89.8%) pleural effusions from cancer patients (15/16 for breast cancers, 10/11 for lung cancers, 4/4 for ovary cancers, 2/3 for colon-rectal cancers, 5/6 for cancers of unknown site, 7/8 for mesothelioma and 10/11 for other cancers). Furthermore, MN/CA9 was positive in 13/18 (72.2%) of cytologically negative effusions of cancer patients. MN/CA9 was detected in only 1/12 (8.3%) effusions from the control patients (p < 0.01). The sensitivity and specificity of MN/CA9 gene expression were, respectively, 89.8% and 91.7%. Our preliminary results suggest that MN/CA9 could be a potential marker for the detection of malignant cells in effusions. A large-scale study is needed to confirm these results.