Several reports have suggested that a decrease or absence of adenosine deaminase complexing protein (ADCP) is consistently associated with cancer. However, in other studies, decreased as well as increased ADCP levels were found. In the present study, we investigated ADCP levels in 37 colorectal adenocarcinomas and correlated the results with clinicopathological characteristics in individual carcinomas.

The levels of adenosine deaminase (EC 3.5.4.4) and soluble ADCP were determined in tissue samples by, respectively, a spectrophotometric assay and an ADCP specific radioimmunoassay. The values in the individual tumors were compared with their histological characteristics, such as degree of differentiation, nuclear grading, and the preoperative plasma carcinoembryonic antigen levels in the patients.

It was found that ADCP was decreased in about a third of the tumors but unaltered or even increased in others. However, there was an overall 40% increase of the adenosine deaminase activity in the tumors compared to normal tissue. There seems to be no simple correlation between any of the clinicopathological parameters and the ADCP or adenosine deaminase levels.

Methods detecting ADCP at single cell level might be helpful in exploring its potential use as a cancer-associated marker.

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This study was supported in part by the Queen Wilhelmina Cancer Foundation (KWF, Project A81-98) and was performed within the framework of Leiden University Medical Faculty Project 5A12, “Genetical studies on human enzymes.”

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