Monitoring respiratory epithelial biology may reveal individuals with incipient lung cancer. The expression of neuroendocrine (NE) markers in pulmonary epithelium is thought to be central to lung development, repair of injury and may contribute to carcinogenesis. In this study, we evaluate several candidate NE markers to determine the feasibility of prospective analysis of clinical specimens. The potential NE markers include the enzyme L-DOPA decarboxylase (DDC), the neuropeptide gastrin releasing peptide (GRP), and peptidyl-glycine α-amidating monooxygenase (PAM), the bifunctional enzyme responsible for the final bioactivation step of many neuropeptides. A comparison of PAM activity and DDC levels in 30 lung cancer cell lines indicated that peptide amidating activity may be an indicator of NE status. Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid from subjects at risk of developing second primary lung cancer and from volunteers was obtained. The activity of the first PAM enzyme, peptidylglycine α-hydroxylating monooxygenase (PHM), ranged from not detectable to 507 pmol/h/mg protein in 57 specimens. The second PAM enzyme, peptidylamidoglycolate lyase (PAL), ranged from not detectable to 414 pmol/h/mg protein in 56 specimens. Using cluster analysis by the average linkage method, a group of enzyme values with PHM greater than 230 pmol/h/mg protein was determined. Long-term follow-up of these patients for new second primary lung cancers may help to determine the potential predictive value of PAM detected in the BAL fluid.
- Translational research
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