Henry Ford Hospital Medical Journal


The malignant C-cell releases several markets of potential clinical significance into the circulation. To determine the usefulness of these markers for management of medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC), it is necessary to compare the usefulness of these markers with calcitonin (CT), the classical tumor marker for MTC. Measurement of serum concentrations of the peptide PDN-21 (katacalcin), a carboxyterminal cleavage product of procalcitonin. showed a high correlation with serum CT levels (r = 0.99, P < 0.01, n = 65 patients with MTC). The presence of equimolar concentrations of CT and PDN-21 (CT/PDN-21 molar ratio = 0.95 ± 0.33) indicates the peptide is cosecreted with CT. Stimulation of CT release by intravenous pentagastrin was associated with a parallel increase of PDN-21, providing further evidence of cosecretion of these two peptides. Finally, measurement of either PDN-21 or CT in selective venous catheterization specimens was useful for localization of MTC. Chromogranin A (CgA) levels were also measured in patients with MTC. Circulating levels were elevated in most patients with advanced disease. There was a moderate correlation between CgA and CT serum levels (r = 0.87, P < 0.01. n = 61 patients with MTC). Pentagastrin did not stimulate CgA, and the long half-life of CgA in the circulation did not make it possible to use this peptide for tumor localization by selective venous catheterization. We conclude that measurement of PDN-21 provides an independent assay system for diagnosis, localization, and postoperative management of MTC. whereas CgA measurement is not useful in early diagnosis of MTC and is of limited value for localization or management of progressive disease.