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Alterations in glycosylation as biomarkers for cancer detection
  1. Celso A Reis1,2,
  2. Hugo Osorio1,
  3. Luisa Silva1,
  4. Catarina Gomes1,
  5. Leonor David1,2
  1. 1Institute of Molecular Pathology and Immunology of the University of Porto - IPATIMUP, Porto, Portugal
  2. 2Medical Faculty of the University of Porto, Porto, Portugal
  1. Correspondence to Professor Celso A Reis, Institute of Molecular Pathology and Immunology of the University of Porto – IPATIMUP, Rua Dr Roberto Frias, s/n, Porto 4200-465, Portugal; celsor{at}


Glycoconjugates constitute a major class of biomolecules which include glycoproteins, glycosphingolipids and proteoglycans. Glycans are involved in several physiological and pathological conditions, such as host–pathogen interactions, cell differentiation, migration, tumour invasion and metastisation, cell trafficking and signalling. Cancer is associated with glycosylation alterations in glycoproteins and glycolipids. This review describes various aspects of protein glycosylation with the focus on alterations associated with human cancer. The application of these glycosylation modifications as biomarkers for cancer detection in tumour tissues and serological assays is summarised.

  • Glycosylation
  • mucins
  • cancer biomarkers
  • antigenic epitopes
  • biochemistry
  • cancer
  • molecular oncology
  • tumour markers

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.