Publication : Predictors of circulating INTERLEUKIN-6 levels in head and neck cancer patients
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Background Circulating interleukin-6 (IL-6) improves outcome prediction for second primary cancer (SPC) in head and neck cancer (HNC) patients. This study aimed to identify factors associated with IL-6 serum levels in HNC patients.
Methods This study was conducted as part of a phase III chemoprevention trial. IL-6 was measured using chemiluminescent immunometric assay on pretreatment serum sample obtained from 527 stage I-II HNC patients. Patients’ lifestyle habits, sociodemographic, medical and tumor characteristics were evaluated before radiation therapy (RT). Factors independently associated with IL-6 levels before RT were identified using multiple linear regression.
Results The median IL-6 serum level was 3.1 ng/L. In the multivariate analysis, eight factors were significantly associated (p < 0.05) with IL-6: age, gender, marital status, body mass index, tobacco consumption, comorbidities, Karnofsky Performance Status and HNC site. Smoking duration and lifetime pack-years were positively associated with IL-6 serum levels in a dose-response relationship (p-value for trend ≤0.03).
Conclusions Circulating IL-6 is a strong predictor of the occurrence of SPC in HNC patients. We identified eight factors independently associated with serum IL-6 levels in 527 stage I-II HNC patients.
The dose-response relationship between lifetime smoking and IL-6 serum levels suggested a causal role of tobacco exposure on IL-6 production. Further studies are needed to establish whether the effect of tobacco exposure on SPC could be partly mediated by IL-6, a pro-inflammatory cytokine.