ABH Antigen Expression & Cancer
In addition to the differential susceptibilities depending on the ABO phenotype, altered expression of ABH antigens in cancer has also been reported. Loss of A/B antigens was first reported in 1950s in human gastric carcinoma, and was subsequently demonstrated to occur in the majority of squamous and transitional cell carcinomas. Tumor cells with decreased expression of these antigens were shown to have a higher metastatic tendency. Life expectancy of patients with blood group A or AB who had primary non-small-cell lung carcinomas negative for A antigen was shown to be significantly shorter when compared to patients with A antigen-positive tumors.
Loss of A/B antigens has also been reported in prostate cancer, regardless of the histological grade or blood type. Vowden et al. used monoclonal antibodies directed towards A, B, H and Lewis y (Ley: Fuc α1->2 Gal β1->4 (Fuc α1->3) GlcNAc β1->) antigens and observed a loss of A/B antigen expression in all prostate tumors tested. They also identified type 2 (core structures are Gal β1->3 GlcNAc β1-> and Gal β1->4 GlcNAc β1-> for type 1 and type 2, respectively) H and Ley antigens in most tumors and proposed a link between type 2 structures and malignant transformation. Other reports confirmed the augmentation of type 2 H expression in poorly differentiated prostate adenocarcinomas, a loss of A, B, Lewis a (Lea: Gal β1->3 (Fuc α1->4) GlcNAc β1->) and Lewis b (Leb: Fuc α1->2 Gal β1->3 (Fuc α1->4) GlcNAc β1->) expression in all grades of adenocarcinomas, and strong expression of Ley in adenocarcinomas. In addition to Ley, sialyl Lex (sLex: NeuAc α2->3 Gal β1->4 (Fuc α1->3) GlcNAc β1->) was also found to be highly expressed in malignant prostate tissue although it is completely absent or minimally expressed in benign secretory epithelial cells. The appearance of Thomsen-Friedenreich antigen (T antigen: Gal β1->3 GalNAc α1->Ser/Thr) has also been reported in a majority of prostate carcinomas.
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