Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Microarray-based identification and RT-PCR test screening for epithelial-specific mRNAs in peripheral blood of patients with colon cancer

Rossella Solmi1*, Giampaolo Ugolini2, Giancarlo Rosati2, Simone Zanotti2, Mattia Lauriola1, Isacco Montroni2, Marco del Governatore2, Antonello Caira2, Mario Taffurelli2, Donatella Santini4, Domenico Coppola3, Lia Guidotti1, Paolo Carinci1 and Pierluigi Strippoli1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Histology, Embryology and Applied Biology, University of Bologna, Via Belmeloro 8, I-40126 Bologna, Italy

2 Department of Surgical and Anesthesiological Sciences-General Surgery, University of Bologna, Via Massarenti 9, I-40138 Bologna, Italy

3 "H.Lee Moffit" Cancer Center and Research Institute, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, USA

4 Department of Pathology, University of Bologna, Via Massarenti 9, I-40138 Bologna, Italy

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Cancer 2006, 6:250  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-6-250

Published: 20 October 2006



The efficacy of screening for colorectal cancer using a simple blood-based assay for the detection of tumor cells disseminated in the circulation at an early stage of the disease is gaining positive feedback from several lines of research. This method seems able to reduce colorectal cancer mortality and may replace colonoscopy as the most effective means of detecting colonic lesions.


In this work, we present a new microarray-based high-throughput screening method to identifying candidate marker mRNAs for the early detection of epithelial cells diluted in peripheral blood cells. This method includes 1. direct comparison of different samples of colonic mucosa and of blood cells to identify consistent epithelial-specific mRNAs from among 20,000 cDNA assayed by microarray slides; 2. identification of candidate marker mRNAs by data analysis, which allowed selection of only 10 putative differentially expressed genes; 3. Selection of some of the most suitable mRNAs (TMEM69, RANBP3 and PRSS22) that were assayed in blood samples from normal subjects and patients with colon cancer as possible markers for the presence of epithelial cells in the blood, using reverse transcription – polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).


Our present results seem to provide an indication, for the first time obtained by genome-scale screening, that a suitable and consistent colon epithelium mRNA marker may be difficult to identify.


The design of new approaches to identify such markers is warranted.