Open Access Research article

Increased serum levels of tumour-associated trypsin inhibitor independently predict a poor prognosis in colorectal cancer patients

Alexander Gaber1, Björn Nodin1, Kristina Hotakainen2, Elise Nilsson1, Ulf-Håkan Stenman2, Anders Bjartell13, Helgi Birgisson4 and Karin Jirström1*

Author Affiliations

1 Center for Molecular Pathology, Department of Laboratory Medicine, Lund University, Skåne University Hospital, Malmö, Sweden

2 Department of Clinical Chemistry, University of Helsinki and Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland

3 Department of Clinical Sciences, Division of Urological Cancers, Lund University, Skåne University Hospital, Malmö, Sweden

4 Department of Surgery, University of Uppsala, Uppsala, Sweden

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BMC Cancer 2010, 10:498  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-10-498

Published: 17 September 2010



There is an insufficient number of reliable prognostic and response predictive biomarkers in colorectal cancer (CRC) management. In a previous study, we found that high tumour tissue expression of tumour-associated trypsin inhibitor (TATI) correlated with liver metastasis and an impaired prognosis in CRC. The aim of this study was to investigate the prognostic validity of serum TATI (s-TATI) in CRC. We further assessed the prognostic value of carcino-embryonic antigen in serum (s-CEA) and the interrelationship between s-TATI and TATI in tissue (t-TATI).


Using an immunofluorometric assay, s-TATI levels were analysed in 334 preoperatively collected serum samples from patients with CRC. Spearman's Rho and Chi-square test were used for analysis of correlations between s-TATI and clinicopathological parameters, s-CEA and t-TATI. Kaplan-Meier analysis and Cox uni- and multivariate regression analysis were used to estimate disease free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS) according to quartiles of s-TATI and cut-offs derived from ROC-analysis of s-TATI and s-CEA.


Increased levels of s-TATI were associated with a reduced DFS (HR = 2.00; 95% CI 1.40-2.84, P < 0.001) and OS (HR = 2.40; 95% CI 1.74-3.33, P < 0.001). (HR = 2.89; 95% CI 1.96-4.25). This association remained significant in multivariate analysis. The association for OS remained significant in multivariate analysis (HR = 1.51; 95% CI 1.03-2.22, P = 0.034 for DFS and HR = 1.78; 95% CI 1.25-2.53, P = 0.001 for OS). There was no significant association between s-TATI and t-TATI. The prognostic value of s-CEA was also evident, but somewhat weaker than for s-TATI.


High preoperative s-TATI levels predict a poor prognosis in patients with CRC, and the prognostic value is independent of established prognostic parameters and t-TATI expression. These data suggest that s-TATI might be a useful marker for prognostic stratification in CRC.