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Carcinoembryonic antigen: Wikis


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Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) is a glycoprotein involved in cell adhesion. It is normally produced during fetal development, but the production of CEA stops before birth. Therefore, it is not usually present in the blood of healthy adults, although levels are raised in heavy smokers. CEA is a glycosyl phosphatidyl inositol (GPI)-cell surface anchored glycoprotein whose specialized sialofucosylated glycoforms serve as functional colon carcinoma L-selectin and E-selectin ligands, which may be critical to the metastatic dissemination of colon carcinoma cells. [1] [2] [3]



CEA was first identified in 1965 by Phil Gold and Samuel O. Freedman in human colon cancer tissue extracts.[4]


It was found that serum from individuals with colorectal carcinoma,[5] gastric carcinoma, pancreatic carcinoma, lung carcinoma and breast carcinoma, as well as individuals with medullary thyroid carcinoma, had higher levels of CEA than healthy individuals.

CEA measurement is mainly used as a tumor marker to identify recurrences after surgical resection. Elevated CEA levels should return to normal after surgical resection, as elevation of CEA during follow up is an indicator of recurrence of tumour.

Regions of high CEA levels in the body can be detected with the monoclonal antibody arcitumomab.

CEA levels may also be raised in some non-neoplastic conditions like ulcerative colitis, pancreatitis and cirrhosis.


CEA and related genes make up the CEA family belonging to the immunoglobulin superfamily. In humans, the carcinoembryonic antigen family consists of 29 genes, 18 of which are normally expressed.[6]

The following is a list of human genes which encode carcinoembryonic antigen-related cell adhesion proteins:



  1. ^ Thomas SN, Zhu F, Schnaar RL, Alves CS, Konstantopoulos K (Jun 2008). "Carcinoembryonic antigen and CD44 variant isoforms cooperate to mediate colon carcinoma cell adhesion to E- and L-selectin in shear flow". J Biol Chem 283 (23): 15647-55. PMID 18375392. 
  2. ^ Konstantopoulos K, Thomas SN (2009). "Cancer cells in transit: the vascular interactions of tumor cells". Annu Rev Biomed Eng 11: 177-202. PMID 19413512. 
  3. ^ Thomas SN, Tong Z, Stebe KJ, Konstantopoulos K (2009). "Identification, characterization and utilization of tumor cell selectin ligands in the design of colon cancer diagnostics". Biorheology 46 (3): 207-25. PMID 19581728. 
  4. ^ Gold P, Freedman SO. Demonstration of tumor-specific antigens in human colonic carcinomata by immunological tolerance and absorption techniques. J Exp Med 1965;121:439. PMID 14270243.
  5. ^ "Cancer Diagnosis - Information About Cancer - Stanford Cancer Center". Retrieved 2008-10-15. 
  6. ^ Hammarstrom S. The carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) family: structures, suggested functions and expression in normal and malignant tissues. Semin Cancer Biol 1999;9:67-81. PMID 10202129.

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