The IgG1/G2 subclass shift – a sensitive, tissue non-specific marker for malignancy. Diagnostic performance with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck

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A significant decrease in %IgG1 accompanied by an increase in %IgG2 in total serum IgG has been previously reported as a highly sensitive marker for detecting early stages of carcinomas of various localizations. Here we investigated the question as to whether this phenomenon is also observed in sera of patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the head–neck region (SCC-HN), and to evaluate its diagnostic performance in the post-operative monitoring. Using quantitative affinity chromatography, serum concentrations of IgG1, IgG2 and total IgG were determined in 81 patients with different stages of primary and untreated SCC-HN, in 51 SCC-HN patients in post-therapeutical follow up, and in 33 patients with organ matched benign diseases. The data were compared with a total of 174 healthy controls. It was found that (i) 105 SCC-HN patients exhibited a mean value of 56.0 ± 0.7% IgG1, which likewise differed from healthy controls (63.2 ± 0.5) and benign diseases (61.5 ± 1.0) with P < 0.0005, (ii) sensitivities and specificities for discriminating primary malignancies from healthy controls were 70 and 74% respectively, and from benign diseases 65 and 76%, (iii) highest sensitivities and specificities were observed with post-therapeutic cases suffering from tumour recurrence (88% and 75%) or patients with distant metastases (87% and 86%), (iv) apparently tumour-free post-therapeutic patients showed a mean %IgG1 not different from the normal value. The decrease in %IgG1 accompanied by increased %IgG2 is an efficient, sensitive and early marker of SCC-HN, which appears particularly useful for the post-therapeutic monitoring.

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Anderhuber, W., Steinschifter, W., Schauenstein, E. et al. The IgG1/G2 subclass shift – a sensitive, tissue non-specific marker for malignancy. Diagnostic performance with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. Br J Cancer 79, 1777–1781 (1999) doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6690283

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  • squamous cell carcinoma
  • head-neck region tumours
  • tumour marker
  • IgG subclasses

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