Serum thymidine kinase activity: Analytical performance, age-related reference ranges and validation in chronic lymphocytic leukemia

Eszter Szánthó, Harjit Pal Bhattoa, Mária Csobán, Péter Antal-Szalmás, Anikó Újfalusi, János Kappelmayer, Zsuzsanna Hevessy

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Background: To date no age-related reference ranges are available for serum thymidine kinase (TK1) activity. Being a proliferation marker, it may be used as a prognostic marker in malignant diseases, including chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Our aim was to establish age-specific reference ranges for TK1 and examine its utility as a screening marker in CLL, a disease of the elderly. Methods: Serum TK1 activity was measured by a competitive chemiluminescent immunoassay in 369 healthy adults and 115 de novo CLL patients. Results: We observed a statistically significant decline in TK1 activity from young (18-35 years) to middle-aged (36-60 years) and further on to elderly (60-86 years) healthy individuals. Age-related reference range was: <30 U/L for young, <25 U/L for middle-aged and <19 U/L for elderly. There was no difference in TK1 activity between the studied healthy men and women. In CLL patients, TK1 activity was the highest in the advanced Rai stages. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (ROC-AUC) for TK1 was 0.840 (95% CI: 0.787-0.892), for differentiating CLL patients from age and sex matched healthy controls, with a cut-off value of 10.5 U/L (sensitivity: 80.9%, specificity: 73.4%). TK1 was significantly elevated in CD38+/Zap70+ CLL patients, and showed significant correlation with WBC and absolute B-cell count. Conclusion: In the healthy, serum TK1 activity does not differ in the two sexes but declines significantly with age. As such, use of age-related reference ranges is warranted, especially when evaluating CLL patients who generally belong to the elderly age group.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere91647
JournalPloS one
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 12 2014


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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