Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), a tumor marker for lung cancers of small cell (SCLC) and non‐small cell (NSCLC) types, belongs in a multigene family which includes non‐specific cross‐reacting antigen (NCA) and biliary glycoprotein 1 (BGP). We used specific cDNA probes and a CEA immunoassay to determine the pattern of expression in normal and malignant lung and gastrointestinal (GI) tissues. Normal lung contained high amounts of NCA and a low concentration of CEA. All 3 genes were expressed discordantly in lung tumors and cell lines. In contrast, all three genes were expressed in most GI tumor cell lines. In both king and colorectal cell lines expression of NCA RNA was relatively high, while BGP RNA was relatively low, and the median concentrations of CEA were greater than in corresponding non‐malignant tissues. While CEA protein concentrations in lung cell lines were similar to those present in GI cell lines, the ratio Of NCA:CEA RNA was significantly higher in lung cancer lines than in colorectal lines. Thus, NCA constitutes most of the “CEA‐like” immunoreactivity previously described in lung cancers. There was excellent concordance between expression of CEA RNA and CEA protein, as well as between concentrations of CEA protein in cell line pellets and supernatant fluids. Of interest, significantly higher rates of CEA expression were present in lung cancers expressing neuroendocrine (NE) markers. The association between CEA expression and NE cell properties is intriguing and may prove to be of clinical interest. © 1992 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research