Urinary EpCAM in urothelial bladder cancer patients: characterisation and evaluation of biomarker potential.

R.T. Bryan, N. J. Shimwell, W. Wei, A.J. Devall, S.J. Pirrie, N.D. James, M.P. Zeegers, K.K. Cheng, A. Martin, D. G. Ward*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background:Epithelial cell adhesion molecule is overexpressed in bladder tumours and released from bladder cancer cells in vitro. We test the hypotheses that urinary EpCAM could act as a biomarker for primary bladder cancer detection and risk stratification.Methods:Epithelial cell adhesion molecule was measured by ELISA in urine from 607 patients with primary bladder tumours and in urine from 53 non-cancer controls. Mann-Whitney tests and ROC analyses were used to determine statistical significance and discrimination between non-cancer controls and different stages and grades of disease. Multivariable modelling and Kaplan-Meier analyses were used to determine prognostic significance. The structure of urinary EpCAM was investigated by western blotting and mass spectrometry.Results:Urinary EpCAM levels increase with stage and grade of bladder cancer. Alongside grade and stage, elevated urinary EpCAM is an independent indicator of poor prognosis with a hazard ratio of 1.76 for bladder cancer-specific mortality. The soluble form of EpCAM in urine is the extracellular domain generated by cleavage between ala243 and gly244. Further studies are required to define the influence of other urinary tract malignancies and benign urological conditions on urinary EpCAM.Conclusion:The extracellular domain of EpCAM is shed into urine by bladder tumours. Urinary EpCAM is a strong indicator of bladder cancer-specific survival, and may be useful within a multi-marker panel for disease detection or as a stand-alone marker to prioritise the investigation and treatment of patients. The mechanisms and effects of EpCAM cleavage in bladder cancer are worthy of further investigation, and may identify novel therapeutic targets.British Journal of Cancer advance online publication, 28 November 2013; doi:10.1038/bjc.2013.744 www.bjcancer.com.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)679-685
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2014


  • EpCAM
  • bladder cancer
  • urine
  • biomarker
  • prognosis
  • ANTIGEN GA733-2
  • EP-CAM
  • SERA

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