• KL-6;
  • MUC1;
  • cell surface antigen;
  • biomarker;
  • lung cancer


By immunizing mice with a lung adenocarcinoma cell line, we previously established a murine IgG1 monoclonal antibody that recognizes a sialylated sugar chain designated Krebs von den Lungen-6 (KL-6). KL-6 is a high–molecular-weight glycoprotein classified as a human MUC1 mucin. The aim of this study was to determine whether KL-6 expression in tumors correlates with circulating KL-6 levels and whether circulating KL-6 has any prognostic value in patients with surgically resected non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Immunohistochemical analysis of KL-6 expression was performed on 103 NSCLC tissues, and its associations with serum KL-6 levels and survival were examined. We also evaluated whether KL-6 expression patterns and/or serum KL-6 levels could predict prognosis in these NSCLC patients. Immunohistochemical analysis of KL-6 in NSCLC tissues showed that a depolarized KL-6 expression pattern was associated with a high level of circulating KL-6 and a poor prognosis in NSCLC patients who underwent curative surgery. Furthermore, a high circulating KL-6 level was associated with both poorer progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS), and multivariate analyses confirmed its independent prognostic value for both PFS and OS (p = 0.041 and 0.023, respectively). Our data suggest that preoperative serum KL-6 level reflects KL-6 expression patterns in NSCLC tissue, and can serve as a useful prognostic biomarker in NSCLC patients who undergo curative surgery.