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Open Access Research article

High prevalence of Y-box protein-1/p18 fragment in plasma of patients with malignancies of different origin

Frank Tacke1, Oliver Galm2, Nicolas Kanig3, Eray Yagmur4, Sabine Brandt3, Jonathan A Lindquist3, Christiane S Eberhardt3, Ute Raffetseder5 and Peter R Mertens3*

Author Affiliations

1 Medical Clinic III, University Hospital RWTH-Aachen, Pauwelsstrasse 30, 52074 Aachen, Germany

2 Medical Clinic IV, University Hospital RWTH-Aachen, Pauwelsstrasse 30, 52074 Aachen, Germany

3 Department of Nephrology and Hypertension, Diabetes and Endocrinology, Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg, Leipziger Str. 44, 39120 Magdeburg, Germany

4 Medical Care Center, Dr. Stein and colleagues, 41061 Mönchengladbach, Germany

5 Medical Clinic II, University Hospital RWTH-Aachen, Pauwelsstrasse 30, 52074 Aachen, Germany

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BMC Cancer 2014, 14:33  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-33

Published: 20 January 2014



Expression of the cold shock protein Y-box protein 1 (YB-1) is associated with deleterious outcome in various malignant diseases. Our group recently showed that the detection of an 18 kDa YB-1 fragment (YB-1/p18) in human plasma identifies patients with malignant diseases. We now tested the prevalence, clinical, and diagnostic value of YB-1/p18 detection in common tumors.


A newly established monoclonal YB-1 antibody was used to detect YB-1/p18 by immunoblotting in plasma samples from 151 unselected tumor patients, alongside established tumor markers and various diagnostic measures, during evaluation for a cancerous disease and in follow-up studies after therapeutic interventions.


Circulating YB-1/p18 was detected in 78% of patients having a tumor disease. YB-1/p18 positivity was highly prevalent in all examined malignancies, including lung cancer (32/37; 87%), breast cancer (7/10; 70%), cancer of unknown primary (CUP; 5/5, 100%) or hematological malignancies (42/62; 68%). Positivity for YB-1/p18 was independent of other routine laboratory parameters, tumor stage, or histology. In comparison to 13 established tumor markers (cancer antigens 15–3, 19–9, 72–4, and 125; carcinoembryonic antigen; cytokeratin fragments 21–1; neuron-specific enolase; alpha-fetoprotein; beta-2-microglobulin; squamous cell carcinoma antigen; thymidine kinase; tissue polypeptide antigen; pro-gastrin-releasing peptide), YB-1/p18 detection within serum samples was the most sensitive general parameter identifying malignant disorders. YB-1/p18 concentrations altered during therapeutic interventions, but did not predict prognosis.


Plasma YB-1/p18 detection has a high specific prevalence in malignancies, thereby providing a novel tool for cancer screening independent of the tumor origin.

Cold shock proteins; Cancer disease; Serum biomarker; Cancer screening; Prognosis; YB-1