Elevation of serum fortilin levels is specific for apoptosis and signifies cell death in vivo

Patuma Sinthujaroen, Nattaporn Wanachottrakul, Decha Pinkaew, John R. Petersen, Amornrat Phongdara, Melinda Sheffield-Moore, Ken Fujise

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    13 Scopus citations


    Background: Billions of cells undergo apoptosis each day in the average normal adult. The ability to readily assess the degree of apoptosis in human diseases is hampered by the lack of sensitive and specific serum biomarkers of apoptosis. Fortilin is a novel prosurvival molecule that protects cells against various noxious stimuli. While fortilin is secreted into the extracellular space under certain conditions, the relationship between the serum concentration of fortilin and the presence and extent of apoptosis in vivo remains unknown. Methods & results: Using a newly developed fortilin ELISA system, we show here that fortilin exists in the normal human and mouse circulation. We further demonstrate that fortilin serum levels are significantly elevated in patients with solid cancer, in response to anti-cancer chemo- or radiation therapy. The elevation of fortilin serum levels is more robust and sensitive than that of such previously-reported serum biomarkers of apoptosis as fragmented cytokeratin-18, cytochrome c, and nucleosomal DNA. In addition, targeted apoptotic liver damage induced by Jo2 anti-Fas (CD95) antibody consistently and significantly increased serum fortilin levels in C57BL/6J mice. Finally, when challenged by anti-human-Fas IgM antibody, Jurkat leukemic T cells apoptosed and released fortilin into the medium before plasma membrane integrity was compromised. Conclusions: Taken together, these data suggest that serum fortilin levels reflect the degree and extent of apoptosis occurring in vivo. General significance: Fortilin is a viable serum biomarker of in vivo apoptosis and can be utilized to noninvasively assess the status of in vivo apoptosis in humans.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)103-111
    Number of pages9
    JournalBBA Clinical
    StatePublished - Dec 1 2014


    • Apoptosis
    • Biomarker
    • Fortilin
    • Programmed cell death

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
    • Molecular Medicine
    • Physiology (medical)


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