Tenascin-W, a new marker of cancer stroma, is elevated in sera of colon and breast cancer patients

Martin Degen*, Florence Brellier, Susanne Schenk, Robert Driscoll, Khalil Zaman, Roger Stupp, Luigi Tornillo, Luigi Terracciano, Ruth Chiquet-Ehrismann, Curzio Rüegg, Walter Seelentag

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Tenascins are extracellular matrix proteins present during the development of organisms as well as in pathological conditions. Tenascin-W, the fourth and last member of the tenascin family remains the least well-characterized one. Our study aimed to evaluate the potential significance of tenascin-W as cancer biomarker by monitoring its presence in the serum of colorectal and breast cancer patients and its expression in colorectal tumor tissues. To measure serum tenascin-W levels, a sensitive sandwich-ELISA was established. Mean tenascin-W concentration in sera of patients with nonmetastatic colorectal cancer at time of diagnosis was highly increased compared to that of healthy volunteers. A similar tendency was observed for tenascin-C in the same patient cohort. However, the increase was much more striking for tenascin-W. We also detected elevated tenascin-W levels in sera of breast cancer patients. Furthermore, we could show a prominent expression of tenascin-W in extracts from colorectal tumor tissues by immunoblot analysis, whereas tenascin-W was not detectable in the corresponding normal colon mucosa. To confirm the western blot results, we performed immunohistochemistry of frozen sections of the same patients as well as of an additional, independently chosen collection of colorectal cancer tissues. In all cases, similarly to tenascin-C, tenascin-W was detected in the tumor stroma. Our results reveal a clear association between elevated levels of tenascin-W and the presence of cancer. These results warrant further studies to evaluate the potential value of serum and tissue tenascin-W levels as diagnostic, prognostic or monitoring biomarker in colorectal, breast and possibly other solid cancers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2454-2461
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 2008


  • Colorectal cancer
  • Extracellular matrix
  • Serum
  • Tenascin
  • Tumor biomarker
  • Tumor stroma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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