GAWK (chromogranin-B 420-493) is a 74 amino acid peptide recently isolated from human pituitaries. Using two different antibodies (directed against GAWK [1-17] and [20-38] fragments) GAWK-LI was measured in tumors from 194 patients and in the plasma of 434 patients by RIA. The highest tissue concentrations of GAWK-LI were found in pheochromocytoma (GAWK [1-17]-LI, 18,173 +/- 3,915; GAWK [20-38]-LI, 17,852 +/- 2,763 [mean +/- SEM] pmol/g wet wt tissue; n = 9), which were at least ten times higher than any other tumors producing GAWK-LI. High concentrations of GAWK-LI were also found in other types of endocrine tumors including carcinoid, medullary carcinoma of thyroid, pancreatic, and ACTH-producing lung tumors. On the other hand, low concentrations of GAWK-LI were found in nonendocrine tumors. Plasma concentrations of GAWK-LI were found to be elevated in patients with endocrine tumor, but more so in those with pancreatic tumors than with pheochromocytomas. Plasma concentrations returned to normal after successful tumor removal. Chromatographic profiles of GAWK-LI in extracts of pheochromocytomas and normal adrenals showed high molecular weight peaks that were absent in the extracts of other endocrine tumors and normal pancreas, suggesting differential tissue-specific processing. Thus GAWK-LI is produced by a variety of endocrine tumors and may serve as a plasma tumor marker, especially in patients with pancreatic endocrine tumors.
K Sekiya, M A Ghatei, M J Salahuddin, A E Bishop, Q A Hamid, H Ibayashi, J M Polak, S R Bloom