Biology and clinical significance of tartrate-resistant acid phosphatases: new perspectives on an old enzyme.

Calcif Tissue Int 2009 Dec 14;85(6):465-83. Epub 2009 Nov 14.

Special Hematology Laboratory, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 800 Zorn Ave., Louisville, KY 40206, USA.

Type 5 tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP) has been a clinically relevant biomarker for about 50 years. It has always been a reliable and specific cytochemical marker for hairy cell leukemia and for differentiated cells of monocytic lineage. Only recently has the test for serum TRAP activity been accepted as sensitive and specific enough for clinical use as a marker of osteoclasts and bone resorption. This has come about through steady advances in knowledge about TRAP enzymology, structure, function, and molecular regulation and a consequent appreciation that TRAP isoforms 5a and 5b have very different clinical significance. As a measure of osteoclast number and bone resorption, TRAP 5b has diagnostic and prognostic applications in osteoporosis, cancers with bone metastasis, chronic renal failure, and perhaps other metabolic and pathologic bone diseases. Serum TRAP 5a, on the other hand, has no relationship to bone metabolism but seems instead to be a measure of activated macrophages and chronic inflammation. Exploration of the real clinical usefulness of serum TRAP 5a for diagnosis and disease management in a wide variety of chronic inflammatory diseases is only now beginning. This perspective traces the important basic scientific developments that have led up to the refinement of serum TRAP isoform immunoassays and their validation as biomarkers of disease. Many unanswered questions remain, providing a wealth of opportunity for continued research of this multifaceted enzyme.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00223-009-9309-8DOI Listing
December 2009
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