Alpha-l-fucosidase: a novel serum biomarker to predict prognosis in early stage esophageal squamous cell carcinoma

Xiangyang Yu, Rusi Zhang, Tianzhen Yang, Mengqi Zhang, Kexing Xi, Yongbin Lin, Yingsheng Wen, Gongming Wang, Zirui Huang, Xuewen Zhang, Lanjun Zhang


Background: Alpha-l-fucosidase (AFU) not only detects hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) early but also is used as a clinical prognostic indicator of several malignant tumors. However, no study has investigated the prognostic significance of AFU in a cohort of patients with esophageal squamous cell carcinomas (ESCCs).
Methods: A retrospective dataset that included 160 consecutive patients with early stage (pT1N0) ESCC who received surgery between January 2005 and December 2012 was analyzed to identify the prognostic value of serum AFU for overall survival (OS) by using Kaplan-Meier analysis and Cox multivariate regression modeling.
Results: The level of serum AFU ranged from 6.2 to 77.0 U/L with a median of 19.9 U/L, and the best cutoff point for OS was 17.95 U/L. Analysis by Pearson’s correlation showed that the levels of serum ALT and GGT were both positively correlated with the level of serum AFU (r=0.403, P<0.001 and r=0.264, P=0.001, respectively). After adjusting for significant factors identified by univariate analysis, the Cox multivariate regression model indicated that a young age (<65 years), no history of alcohol consumption, and a low AFU level (≤17.95 U/L) were still significantly associated with longer OS (P=0.008, 0.004 and 0.017, respectively). The 5-year and 10-year OS rates for patients with high AFU levels vs. low AFU levels were 76.2% vs. 86.0%, and, 46.7% vs. 83.4%, respectively.
Conclusions: Compared with other serum biomarkers, AFU showed a better prognostic value for long-term survival in patients with early stage ESCC.