Research Papers:

Detection of soluble EpCAM (sEpCAM) in malignant ascites predicts poor overall survival in patients treated with catumaxomab

Andreas Seeber _, Ioana Braicu, Gerold Untergasser, Mani Nassir, Dominic Fong, Laura Botta, Guenther Gastl, Heidi Fiegl, Alain Zeimet, Jalid Sehouli and Gilbert Spizzo

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:25017-25023. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.4496

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Andreas Seeber1,2,3, Ioana Braicu4, Gerold Untergasser1,2,3, Mani Nassir4, Dominic Fong1,2,3,5, Laura Botta6, Guenther Gastl1, Heidi Fiegl7, Alain Zeimet7, Jalid Sehouli4, Gilbert Spizzo1,2,3,5

1Department of Haematology and Oncology, Innsbruck Medical University, Innsbruck, Austria

2Tyrolean Cancer Research Institute, Innsbruck, Austria

3Oncotyrol – Center for Personalized Cancer Medicine, Innsbruck, Austria

4European Competence Center for Ovarian Cancer, Charité Berlin, Berlin, Germany

5Haemato-Oncological Day Hospital, Hospital of Merano, Merano, Italy

6Evaluative Epidemiology Unit, Fondazione IRCSS “Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori”, Milan, Italy

7Department of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, Innsbruck Medical University, Innsbruck, Austria

Correspondence to:

Andreas Seeber, e-mail: [email protected]

Keywords: EpCAM, soluble EpCAM, catumaxomab, ascites, ovarian cancer

Received: May 10, 2015     Accepted: June 29, 2015     Published: July 10, 2015


EpCAM is an attractive target for cancer therapy and the EpCAM-specific antibody catumaxomab has been used for intraperitoneal treatment of EpCAM-positive cancer patients with malignant ascites. New prognostic markers are necessary to select patients that mostly benefit from catumaxomab. Recent data showed that soluble EpCAM (sEpCAM) is capable to block the effect of catumaxomab in vitro. This exploratory retrospective analysis was performed on archived ascites samples to evaluate the predictive role of sEpCAM in catumaxomab-treated patients. Sixty-six catumaxomab-treated patients with an available archived ascites sample were included in this study and tested for sEpCAM by sandwich ELISA. All probes were sampled before treatment start and all patients received at least one catumaxomab infusion. Overall survival, puncture-free survival and time to next puncture were compared between sEpCAM-positive and -negative patients. We detected sEpCAM in ascites samples of 9 patients (13.6%). These patients showed a significantly shorter overall survival. The prognostic significance of sEpCAM in ascites was particularly strong in patients with ovarian cancer. Puncture-free survival and time to next puncture were not significantly different between sEpCAM-positive and -negative patients. We propose sEpCAM in malignant ascites as a potential predictive marker in cancer patients treated with catumaxomab. Prospective studies with larger patients samples are urgently needed to confirm these findings and studies testing dose-intensified catumaxomab in patients with sEpCAM-positive ascites should be envisaged.

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