Background: Various biomarkers are being developed for the early diagnosis of cancer and for predicting its prognosis. The aim of this study is to evaluate the diagnostic significance of serum CD109 in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Methods: The serum CD109 levels in a total of 112 serum samples collected before and after surgery from 56 HNSCC patients were analyzed with an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The clinical factor that showed a statistically significant association with both the preoperative serum CD109 level, and the CD109 index: which was defined as the ratio of the preoperative serum CD109 level to the postoperative serum CD109 level, were assessed. The correlations between the serum CD109 levels and lymph node density (LND), pathological features such as lymphatic invasion, and serum SCC antigen levels were also assessed. Results: The ELISA measurement revealed that preoperative serum CD109 levels were elevated in patients with node metastasis-positive and stage IV disease, in comparison to those with node metastasis-negative and Stage I+II+III disease, respectively. A multiple regression analysis indicated that serum CD109 level was significantly associated with the node metastasis status. A Spearman's rank correlation analysis also revealed a positive correlation between the preoperative serum CD109 level and LND. Furthermore, the probabilities of the overall and relapse-free survival were significantly lower in patients with a preoperative serum CD109 level of ≥38.0 ng/ml and a CD109 index of ≥1.6, respectively, than in others. There was no significant correlation between the serum CD109 and SCC antigen levels. Conclusions: The serum CD109 levels were elevated in patients with advanced stage disease, reflecting the node metastasis status. CD109 in sera could be a novel prognostic marker for HNSCC involving lymph node metastasis.
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