Research Highlight

New biomarker for bladder cancer

doi:10.1038/nindia.2012.116 Published online 6 August 2012

Researchers have identified a biomarker protein linked to the severity of transitional cell carcinoma (TCC), a type of cancer that affects the inner cell lining of the bladder. This protein stathmin (STMN1) destabilizes the microtubule, tiny protein-based structures in cells, offering a new non-invasive technique to detect cancers of the bladder.

Bladder cancers are recurrent and require invasive therapies such as cystoscopy. This stresses the need for a biomarker-based non-invasive technique. Marker proteins such as CD147, BIGH3 and STMN1 have roles in TCC patients. CD147 aids tumour invasion and growth, and BIGH3 is an extracellular matrix protein. However, no studies have so far explored the roles of BIGH3 and STMN1 in TCC patients.

To pin down their roles and develop a non-invasive technique for detecting bladder cancer, the researchers measured the levels of these marker proteins in the serum and urine of 30 TCC patients and 30 control patients across two groups — 15 with benign prostatic hyperplasia and 15 healthy individuals. To establish a genetic correlation, the researchers measured the levels of messenger RNA, which carries the coded recipe from genes to make such marker proteins.

The mean concentrations of these molecules were significantly higher in the serum and urine of TCC patients than that of the control groups. CD147 and STMN1 were high in the urine and serum samples, respectively; BIGH3 showed elevated levels in both.

For all three molecules, messenger RNA expression was elevated when the disease invaded muscle cells. Of the three, STMN1 provided the most significant results. The researchers say that STMN1 could serve as an excellent potential diagnostic marker for TCC detection.

The authors of this work are from: Department of Biochemistry, and Department of Urology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), and Department of Radiotherapy and Oncology, Maulana Azad Medical College and Lok Nayak Hospital, New Delhi, India.


  1. Bhagirath, D. et al. Expression of CD147, BIGH3 and stathmin and their potential role as diagnostic marker in patients with urothelial carcinoma of the bladder. Clin. Chim. Acta. 413, 1641-1646 (2012) | Article | PubMed |