Sensitive and Specific Detection of the 4B5 Antigen in Bronchial Lavage Specimens from Patients with Primary Bronchogenic Carcinoma

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The monoclonal antibody 4B5 binds to a mucin-like antigen elaborated by respiratory epithelium of patients with non-small cell bronchogenic carcinoma. Several immunoassay formats were used to determine the presence of the antigen in lavage specimens. A qualitative immuno-drop binding assay showed immunoreactivity in 37 (64%) of 58 specimens from patients with non-small cell lung cancer. In contrast, only 11 (12%) of 93 specimens from patients with either metastatic carcinoma or benign pulmonary diseases exhibited 4B5 immunoreactivity. A quantitative radioimmunoassay using standardized amounts of mucin exhibited similar sensitivity and specificity. Positive immunoreactivity was associated significantly with tobacco use and the cytopathologic diagnoses of squamous metaplasia, atypia, or dysplasia. Conversely, no significant association was found between 4B5 immunoreactivity and age, gender, race, benign cyto-logic findings, frankly malignant cytologic findings, or stage of disease. The expression of 4B5 antigen in bronchial secretions from patients with bronchogenic carcinoma deserves additional evaluation as a potential marker of pulmonary carcinogenesis.