January 9, 2023

Novel lung cancer biomarker

Autoantibodies against the p53 tumor suppressor protein may be a novel biomarker for identifying people, especially African Americans, at high risk for lung cancer.

The gene that encodes the tumor suppressor protein p53 is the most commonly mutated gene in human cancers. Mutations can lead to the production of autoantibodies against p53, which have been associated with various types of cancer. 

To explore the association between p53 autoantibodies and lung cancer risk, Qiuyin Cai, MD, PhD, and colleagues conducted a nested case-control study within the Southern Community Cohort Study. Using blood samples collected at enrollment (before any cancer diagnosis), they tested for p53 autoantibodies in 295 people later diagnosed with lung cancer and 295 matched cancer-free controls. 

They found that circulating p53 autoantibodies were associated with the subsequent development of lung cancer in African Americans, but not European Americans, and in lung cancer cases diagnosed within four years of blood collection. 

Their findings, reported in Cancer Epidemiology, support p53 autoantibodies as a biomarker of lung cancer that could aid in identifying people, especially African Americans, at high risk and facilitating early diagnosis.

Co-authors of the study include Hyung-Suk Yoon, PhD, MPH, Wei Zheng, MD, PhD, MPH, Hui Cai, MD, PhD, Jie Wu, MD, MPH, Chris Shidal, PhD, Jifeng Wang, PhD, Xiao-Ou Shu, MD, PhD, MPH, Tim Waterboer, PhD, and William J. Blot, PhD. 

The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (grants CA160056, CA092447, CA202979, MD015396) and the Department of Defense Lung Cancer Research Program. Data collection and sample preparation were performed by the Survey and Biospecimen Shared Resource, which is supported in part by the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (NIH grant CA068485).