Kjaer IM, Olsen DA, Brandslund I, Bechmann T, Jakobsen EH, Bogh SB and Madsen JS
Sci Rep. 2020 Apr 21;10(1):6714
The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and its ligands are involved in cancer pathogenesis and they might serve as circulating biomarkers. The current study aims to investigate if abnormal pre-treatment serum levels of EGFR and EGFR ligands are present in women with early-stage breast cancer and if up- or downregulation of EGFR and EGFR ligands occur in defined patient subgroups. Pre-treatment serum samples were obtained from 311 women with newly diagnosed early-stage breast cancer and from 419 healthy women and analysed for EGFR and the ligands: Epidermal growth factor (EGF), heparin-binding epidermal growth factor (HBEGF), betacellulin (BTC), amphiregulin (AREG), and transforming growth factor α (TGF-α). Previously, age-dependent 95% reference intervals for EGFR and the EGFR ligands have been established based on the healthy women population. S-EGFR, S-EGF, S-HBEGF, S-AREG, and S-TGFα were all significantly different in women with breast cancer compared to healthy women (p < 0.05). Elevated S-EGFR, according to the reference intervals, was present in 11.3% of breast cancer patients, whereas decreased S-EGF was found in 11.6%. Elevated S-EGFR was associated with estrogen receptor positivity of tumor (ER+) and a subgroup of ER + breast cancer patients showed markedly elevated S-EGFR (>120 ng/mL).