A quantitative imbalance between matrix metalloproteinases produced by cancer cells and tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases produced by fibroblasts and other types of cells has been demonstrated to be a causative factor in invasion and metastasis of cancer cells. On the other hand, it is reported that sugar chains of adhesion molecules such as integrins and CD44 also influence the metastasis of cancer cells. Here, alterations of serum IgG oligosaccharide chain structure were investigated during tumor progression using the new method of fluorophore-assisted carbohydrate electrophoresis (FACE). The structure of serum IgG oligosaccharide chains from 22 cancer patients (11 localized cancer, 11 metastatic cancer) and 10 healthy controls was evaluated by FACE. It was clearly demonstrated that serum IgG oligosaccharide chains without galactose (agalactosyl IgG oligosaccharide) significantly increased with tumor progression of lung and gastric cancers. It is concluded that a marked increase of agalactosyl IgG oligosaccharide in these cancer patients is associated with carcinogenesis and metastasis. Therefore, the analysis of serum IgG oligosaccharide chain structure by FACE may be useful for evaluating diagnosis and prognosis in patients with these carcinomas.

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