Blood-based early detection of breast cancer has recently gained novel momentum, as liquid biopsy diagnostics is a fast emerging field. In this study, we aimed to identify secreted proteins which are up-regulated both in tumour tissue and serum samples of breast cancer patients compared to normal tissue and sera. Based on two independent tissue cohorts (n = 75 and n = 229) and one serum cohort (n = 80) of human breast cancer and healthy serum samples, we characterised AGR3 as a novel potential biomarker both for breast cancer prognosis and early breast cancer detection from blood. AGR3 expression in breast tumours is significantly associated with oestrogen receptor α (P<0.001) and lower tumour grade (P<0.01). Interestingly, AGR3 protein expression correlates with unfavourable outcome in low (G1) and intermediate (G2) grade breast tumours (multivariate hazard ratio: 2.186, 95% CI: 1.008-4.740, P<0.05) indicating an independent prognostic impact. In sera analysed by ELISA technique, AGR3 protein concentration was significantly (P<0.001) elevated in samples from breast cancer patients (n = 40, mainly low stage tumours) compared to healthy controls (n = 40). To develop a suitable biomarker panel for early breast cancer detection, we measured AGR2 protein in human serum samples in parallel. The combined AGR3/AGR2 biomarker panel achieved a sensitivity of 64.5% and a specificity of 89.5% as shown by receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve statistics. Thus our data clearly show the potential usability of AGR3 and AGR2 as biomarkers for blood-based early detection of human breast cancer.
Garczyk, S., Von Stillfried, S., Antonopoulos, W., Hartmann, A., Schrauder, M. G., Fasching, P. A., … Dahl, E. (2015). AGR3 in breast cancer: Prognostic impact and suitable serum-based biomarker for early cancer detection. PLoS ONE, 10(4). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0122106