Research Papers:

ProNGF is a potential diagnostic biomarker for thyroid cancer

Sam Faulkner _, Severine Roselli, Yohann Demont, Jay Pundavela, Genevieve Choquet, Philippe Leissner, Christopher Oldmeadow, John Attia, Marjorie M. Walker and Hubert Hondermarck

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:28488-28497. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.8652

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Sam Faulkner1,2,*, Severine Roselli1,2,*, Yohann Demont3,7, Jay Pundavela1,2, Genevieve Choquet4, Philippe Leissner4, Christopher Oldmeadow5, John Attia2,6, Marjorie M. Walker2,6, Hubert Hondermarck1,2

1School of Biomedical Sciences & Pharmacy, Faculty of Health and Medicine, University of Newcastle, Callaghan NSW 2308, Australia

2Hunter Medical Research Institute, University of Newcastle, New Lambton NSW 2305, Australia

3Inserm U908, Growth Factor Signaling and Functional Proteomics of Breast Cancer, University of Lille, 59655 Villeneuve d’Ascq, France

4Medical Diagnostic Discovery Department, bioMérieux, 69280 Marcy l’Etoile, France

5School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Faculty of Science and Information Technology, University of Newcastle, Callaghan NSW 2308, Australia

6School of Public Health & Medicine, Faculty of Health and Medicine, University of Newcastle, Callaghan NSW 2308, Australia

7Present address: INSERM U1138 team 11, Centre de Recherche des Cordeliers, 75006 Paris, France

*These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Hubert Hondermarck, email: [email protected]

Keywords: growth factors, proNGF, thyroid cancer, diagnostic biomarker

Received: January 11, 2016    Accepted: March 28, 2016    Published: April 08, 2016


The precursor for nerve growth factor (proNGF) is expressed in some cancers but its clinicopathological significance is unclear. The present study aimed to define the clinicopathological significance of proNGF in thyroid cancer. ProNGF expression was analysed by immunohistochemistry in two cohorts of cancer versus benign tumors (adenoma) and normal thyroid tissues. In the first cohort (40 thyroid cancers, 40 thyroid adenomas and 80 normal thyroid tissues), proNGF was found overexpressed in cancers compared to adenomas and normal samples (p<0.0001). The area under the receiver-operating characteristic (ROC) curve was 0.84 (95% CI 0.75-0.93, p<0.0001) for cancers versus adenomas, and 0.99 (95% CI 0.98-1.00, p<0.0001) for cancers versus normal tissues. ProNGF overexpression was confirmed in a second cohort (127 cancers of various histological types and 55 normal thyroid tissues) and using a different antibody (p<0.0001). ProNGF staining intensity was highest in papillary carcinomas compared to other histological types (p<0.0001) and there was no significant association with age, gender, tumor size, stage and lymph node status. In conclusion, proNGF is increased in thyroid cancer and should be considered as a new potential diagnostic biomarker.

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