Prognostic and diagnostic potential of local and circulating levels of pentraxin 3 in lung cancer patients

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There is a well-established link between inflammation and cancer of various organs, but little data are available on inflammation-associated markers of diagnostic and prognostic clinical utility in pulmonary malignancy. Blood samples were prospectively collected from 75 resectable lung cancer patients before surgery and in a cohort of 1,358 high-risk subjects. Serum levels of long pentraxin 3 (PTX3) were determined by high-sensitivity ELISA. PTX3 immunostaining was evaluated by immunohistochemistry in cancer tissue. Serum PTX3 levels in the high-risk population were not predictive of developing subsequent lung cancer or any other malignancy; however, serum PTX3 values in patients with lung cancer were significantly higher compared with cancer-free heavy smokers. With a cutoff of 4.5 ng/ml, specificity was 0.80, sensitivity 0.69, positive predictive value 0.15 and negative predictive value 0.98. The receiver operating curve (ROC) for serum PTX3 had an area under the curve (AUC) of 83.52%. Preoperative serum PTX3 levels in lung cancer patients did not correlate with patient outcome, but high interstitial expression of PTX3 in resected tumor specimens was a significant independent prognostic factor associated with shorter survival (p< 0.001). These results support the potential of serum PTX3 as a lung cancer biomarker in high-risk subjects. Furthermore, PTX3 immunohistochemistry findings support the role of local inflammatory mechanisms in determining clinical outcome and suggest that local expression of PTX3 may be of prognostic utility in lung cancer patients.

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To examine the relationship between cancer and inflammation, the authors measured serum levels of pentraxin 3, a “cousin” of C-reactive protein, in patients with non-small cell lung cancer. Levels were significantly higher in patients as compared to high-risk cancer-free controls, supporting a role for pentraxin 3 as biomarker in lung cancer. Although serum levels did not correlate with clinical outcome, immunostaining of the inflammatory mediator in lung tissue was associated with shorter patient survival, underscoring the pathogenetic relevance of local inflammation in such disease.

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