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Open Access Research

Serum level of DKK-1 and its prognostic potential in non–small cell lung cancer

Liang-liang Dong, Lu-yun Qu, Li-yan Chu, Xiao-hui Zhang* and Ying-hui Liu*

Author Affiliations

Department of Medical Oncology, Yantai Yuhuangding Hospital, 20 Yuhuangding East Road, Yantai 264000, China

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Diagnostic Pathology 2014, 9:52  doi:10.1186/1746-1596-9-52

Published: 10 March 2014



The aim of the present study was to measure the serum level of dickkopf-1(DKK-1) in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), and to determine the prognostic potential of serum DKK-1 in NSCLC.

Material and methods

The present study included a total of 150 patients with NSCLC and 150 healthy controls. Serum level of DKK-1 was measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Numerical variables were recorded as means ± standard deviation (SD) and analyzed by independent t-tests. Categorical variables were presented as rates and analyzed by using the chi-square test or Fisher’s exact test. The overall survival was analyzed by log-rank test, and survival curves were plotted according to Kaplan–Meier.


We found that serum DKK-1 level was significantly higher in patients with NSCLC than healthy controls. Mean serum DKK-1 level was 31.42 ± 6.32 ng/ml in the NSCLC group and 14.12 ± 3.29 ng/ml in the healthy control group (p <0.01). Serum DKK-1 level expression level was significantly positively correlated with TNM stage (p = 0.009), lymph node involvement(p = 0.001), and distant metastases(p < 0.001).

In the multivariate Cox proportional hazards analysis, high DKK-1 expression was independently associated with poor survival (P < 0.001; HR = 3.98; 95% CI =2.19-4.83).


In conclusion, our results showed that DKK-1 was overexpressed in NSCLC, and DKK-1 in serum was a good predictor of poor prognosis in patients with NSCLC. More researches are needed in the future to clarify the detailed mechanism of DKK-1 in the carcinogenesis and metastasis of NSCLC.

Virtual slides

The virtual slides for this article can be found here: webcite.

Dickkopf-1; Non-small cell lung cancer; Prognosis