Research Papers:

A novel multiplex detection array revealed systemic complement activation in oral squamous cell carcinoma

Juliane Gallenkamp, Gerrit Spanier, Elisabeth Wörle, Markus Englbrecht, Michael Kirschfink, Roman Greslechner, Regine Braun, Nicole Schäfer, Richard J. Bauer _ and Diana Pauly

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Oncotarget. 2018; 9:3001-3013. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.22963

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Juliane Gallenkamp1,*, Gerrit Spanier1,*, Elisabeth Wörle2, Markus Englbrecht2, Michael Kirschfink3, Roman Greslechner2, Regine Braun2, Nicole Schäfer2, Richard J. Bauer1,4,* and Diana Pauly2,*

1University Hospital Regensburg, Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Regensburg, Germany

2University Hospital Regensburg, Department of Ophthalmology, Regensburg, Germany

3Institute of Immunology, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany

4Center for Medical Biotechnology, Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, University Hospital Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Richard J. Bauer, email: [email protected]

Keywords: mulitplex assay; oral squamous cell carcinoma; complement proteins; C3a; C5a

Received: August 18, 2017     Accepted: November 11, 2017     Published: December 06, 2017


Oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) is one of the most common tumors within the oral cavity. Early diagnosis and prognosis tools are urgently needed. This study aimed to investigate the activation of the complement system in OSCC patients as potential biomarker. Therefore, an innovative complement activation array was developed.

Characterized antibodies detecting the complement activation specific epitopes C3a, C5a and sC5b-9 along with control antibodies were implemented into a suspension bead array. Human serum from a healthy (n = 46) and OSCC patient (n = 57) cohort were used to investigate the role of complement activation in oral tumor progression. The novel multiplex assay detected C3a, C5a and sC5b-9 from a minimal sample volume of human tears, aqueous humor and blood samples. Limits of detection were 0.04 ng/mL for C3a, 0.03 ng/mL for C5a and 18.9 ng/mL for sC5b-9, respectively. Biological cut-off levels guaranteed specific detections from serum. The mean serum concentration of a healthy control cohort was 680 ng/mL C3a, 70 ng/mL C5a and 2247 ng/mL sC5b-9, respectively. The assay showed an intra-assay precision of 2.9–6.4% and an inter-assay precision of 9.2–18.2%.

Increased systemic C5a (p < 0.0001) and sC5b-9 (p = 0.01) concentrations in OSCC patients were determined using the validated multiplex complement assay. Higher C5a concentrations correlated with tumor differentiation and OSCC extension state. Systemic sC5b-9 determination provided a novel biomarker for infiltrating tumor growth and C3a levels were associated with local tumor spreading.

Our study suggests that systemic complement activation levels in OSCC patients may be useful to assess disease progression.

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