EGFR and EGFR ligands in serum in healthy women; reference intervals and age dependency.

Clinical Chemistry Laboratory Medicine
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Kjaer IM, Olsen DA, Alnor A, Brandslund I, Bechmann T and Madsen JS

Clin Chem Lab Med. 2019 Jul 16. pii: /j/cclm.ahead-of-print/cclm-2019-0376/cclm-2019-0376.xml. doi: 10.1515/cclm-2019-0376. 

Abstract

Background The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) system is involved in cancer pathogenesis and serves as an important target for multiple cancer treatments. EGFR and its ligands epidermal growth factor (EGF), heparin-binding epidermal growth factor (HB-EGF), betacellulin (BTC), amphiregulin (AREG) and transforming growth factor α (TGF-α) have potential applications as prognostic or predictive serological biomarkers in cancer. The aim was to establish EGFR and EGFR ligand reference intervals in healthy women. Methods EGFR and EGFR ligands were measured in serum from 419 healthy women aged 26-78 years. The need for age partitioned reference intervals was evaluated using Lahti's method. EGFR and EGF were analyzed using ELISA assays, whereas HB-EGF, BTC, AREG and TGF-α were analyzed using the highly sensitive automated single molecule array (Simoa) enabling detection below the lower reference limit for all six biomarkers. Results Reference intervals for EGFR and the EGFR ligands were determined as the 2.5th and 97.5th percentiles. All six biomarkers were detectable in all serum samples. For EGFR, EGF, HB-EGF and TGF-α, reference intervals were established for women <55 years and for women >55 years, whilst common reference intervals were established for AREG and BTC including women aged 26-78 years. Conclusions Age specific reference intervals were determined for EGFR, EGF, HB-EGF, BTC, AREG and TGF-α.