Circulating markers for endocrine tumours of the gastroenteropancreatic tract

Ardill, Joy E. S.
November 2008
Annals of Clinical Biochemistry;Nov2008, Vol. 45 Issue 6, p539
Academic Journal
The diffuse endocrine system (DES) includes a wide range of secretory cells that may be the source of tumours. Gastroenteropancreatic endocrine (GEP) tumours arising within the DES secrete a variety of peptides and amines that are found in the circulation and are responsible for the syndromes associated with these tumours. In this review, the most common tumours of the GEP tract are outlined and the circulating products of these tumours identified. Where differential diagnosis is difficult these points are addressed. The peptides most commonly secreted by GEP neuroendocrine tumours are identified and described and their biological activities are discussed. Current methods available for measurement of these peptides are described. Attention is drawn towards molecular specificity where appropriate, as many pancreatic and gut peptides fall within families which show considerable homology, such as the tachykinin family or the glucagon family. Other peptides such as gastrin circulate in multiple molecular forms. This homology and diversity may cause difficulty in the interpretation of peptide measurements in the clinical situation if assays are not specific.


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