ELTD1, a protein linked with angiogenesis, has emerged as the strongest candidate for a significant association with glioma out of nearly 200 possible markers analyzed.

Gliomas already have some known biomarkers, such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and glucose transporter 1 (GLUT1). However, the identification of additional biomarkers could enhance the detection of glioma presence and grade, particularly such high-grade gliomas as glioblastoma multiforme. This diffuse, invasive, and highly angiogenic glioma has a very poor prognosis, as investigators Rheal A. Towner, PhD, of Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation in Oklahoma City, and colleagues wrote in Neurosurgery (2013;72[1]:77-91).

Using data-mining and bioinformatic techniques to evaluate genes and gene products potentially associated with gliomas, Towner’s team found that ELTD1, which stands for epidermal growth factor, latrophilin, and 7 transmembrane domain-containing protein 1, was expressed at significantly higher levels in high-grade gliomas (50 patients) than in low-grade gliomas (21 patients).

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In addition, ELTD1 compared well with VEGF, GLUT1, and other known immunohistochemical markers of glioma.

“ELTD1 gene expression indicates an association with grade, survival across grade, and an increase in the mesenchymal subtype,” wrote the researchers. “Significantly high in vivo levels of ELTD1 were additionally found in [rat] F98 [glioma] tumors compared with normal brain tissue.”

Although the findings are only preliminary, Towner’s group suggested that ELTD1 could be useful in detecting the presence and grade of gliomas. “Any increase in ELTD1 will more than likely be associated with increased angiogenesis or neovascularization in gliomas,” the researchers reported.