Public Release:  Inflammation marker related to obesity is elevated in patients with pancreatic cancer

Thomas Jefferson University

(PHILADELPHIA) The levels of an inflammatory chemokine were significantly elevated in patients with pancreatic cancer who were extremely obese, according to research conducted by scientists at the Jefferson Pancreatic, Biliary and Related Cancers Center. They presented their data at the 5th Annual Academic Surgical Congress, held in San Antonio.

Studies have shown that obesity is correlated with inflammation. Similarly, studies have also shown that inflammation contributes to the tumor progression of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA). This study looks at the role of monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1), a marker of inflammation, in obese patients with pancreatic cancer.

Hwyda Arafat, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of Surgery at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, and colleagues sought to identify whether MCP-1 could serve as a marker for pancreatic cancer, and a differentiation marker between benign and malignant lesions.

The research team analyzed the MCP-1 levels in serum samples obtained from patients with confirmed PDA or intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms (IPMN). They found that the levels of MCP-1 were significantly elevated in extremely obese patients. In the less obese population (BMI < 37.5), the MCP-1 levels were elevated only in patients with PDA. In the patients who had IPMN, high levels of MCP-1 also correlated with older age.

"MCP-1 has potential as a biomarker for pancreatic cancer, but this needs to be confirmed in a larger sample size," Dr. Arafat said. "Further study of this protein in a larger sample size and different benign and unresectable malignant lesions is needed. Understanding the nature of the relationship of its elevation with age and the highest levels of obesity will assist with the full development of the potential clinical usage of this marker."

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The study will be presented by first author Jennifer Sullivan, a former resident in Dr. Arafat's lab. Terry Hyslop, Ph.D., Director of the Division of Biostatistics, and Charles Yeo, M.D., the Samuel D. Gross Professor and Chairman of Surgery, also participated in the study.

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