Soluble AXL: a possible circulating biomarker for neurofibromatosis type 1 related tumor burden

Gunnar Johansson, Po Chun Peng, Po Yuan Huang, Hsiung Fei Chien, Kuo Tai Hua, Min Liang Kuo, Chin Tin Chen, Ming Jen Lee

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18 Citations (Scopus)


Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is the most common tumor predisposition disorder affecting 1/3500 worldwide. Patients are at risk of developing benign (neurofibromas) and malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNST). The AXL receptor tyrosine kinase has been implicated in several kinds of cancers, but so far no studies have investigated the role of AXL in NF1 related tumorigenesis. Recently, the soluble fraction from the extracellular domain of AXL (sAXL) has been found in human plasma, and its level was correlated to poor prognosis in patients with renal cancer. Compared to normal human Schwann cells, a significantly high expression level of AXL was found in three of the four MPNST cell lines and two of the three primary MPNST tissues. Similarly, the level of sAXL in conditioned media corresponded to the protein and mRNA levels of AXL in the MPNST cell lines. Furthermore, in two different human MPNST xenograft models, the human sAXL could be detected in the mouse plasma. Its level was proportionate to the size of the xenograft tumors, while no human sAXL was detect prior to the formation of the tumors. Treatment with a newly developed photodynamic therapy, prevented further tumor growth and resulted in drastically reduced the levels of sAXL compared to that of the control group. Finally, the level of sAXL was significantly increased in patients with plexiform tumors compared to patients with only dermal neurofibromas, further supporting the role of sAXL as a marker for NF1 related tumor burden.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e115916
JournalPLoS One
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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