Circulating markers for endocrine tumours of the gastroenteropancreatic tract

Ann Clin Biochem 2008;45:539-559
doi:10.1258/acb.2008.008039
© 2008 Association for Clinical Biochemistry

 

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Review Article


Joy E S Ardill


Regional Regulatory Peptide Laboratory, Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Royal Victoria Hospital and Queen’s University, Belfast BT12 6BJ, UK


Corresponding author: Joy E S Ardill. Email: Joy.ardill{at}belfasttrust.hscni.net

The diffuse endocrine system (DES) includes a wide range ofsecretory cells that may be the source of tumours. Gastroenteropancreaticendocrine (GEP) tumours arising within the DES secrete a varietyof peptides and amines that are found in the circulation andare responsible for the syndromes associated with these tumours.In this review, the most common tumours of the GEP tract areoutlined and the circulating products of these tumours identified.Where differential diagnosis is difficult these points are addressed.The peptides most commonly secreted by GEP neuroendocrine tumoursare identified and described and their biological activitiesare discussed. Current methods available for measurement ofthese peptides are described. Attention is drawn towards molecularspecificity where appropriate, as many pancreatic and gut peptidesfall within families which show considerable homology, suchas the tachykinin family or the glucagon family. Other peptidessuch as gastrin circulate in multiple molecular forms. Thishomology and diversity may cause difficulty in the interpretationof peptide measurements in the clinical situation if assaysare not specific.


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