Predictive biomarkers for Barrett's esophagus: So near and yet so far

M. R. Timmer, G. Sun, E. C. Gorospe, C. L. Leggett, L. Lutzke, K. K. Krishnadath, K. K. Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Barrett's esophagus (BE) is the strongest risk factor for the development of esophageal adenocarcinoma. However, the risk of cancer progression is difficult to ascertain in individuals, as a significant number of patients with BE do not necessarily progress to esophageal adenocarcinoma. There are several issues with the current strategy of using dysplasia as a marker of disease progression. It is subject to sampling error during biopsy acquisition and interobserver variability among gastrointestinal pathologists. Ideal biomarkers with high sensitivity and specificity are needed to accurately detect high-risk BE patients for early intervention and appropriate cost-effective surveillance. To date, there are no available molecular tests in routine clinical practice despite known genetic and epigenetic aberrations in the Barrett's epithelium. In this review, we present potential biomarkers for the prediction of malignant progression in BE. These include markers of genomic instability, tumor suppressor loci abnormalities, epigenetic changes, proliferation markers, cell cycle predictors, and immunohistochemical markers. Further work in translating biomarkers for routine clinical use may eventually lead to accurate risk stratification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)574-581
Number of pages8
JournalDiseases of the Esophagus
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 2013


  • Barrett's esophagus
  • Biomarker
  • Early detection of cancer
  • Esophageal adenocarcinoma
  • Fluorescence in situ hybridization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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