Cytokines may be elevated in tumor and normal tissues following irradiation. Cytokine expression in these tissues may predict for toxicity or tumor control. The purpose of this pilot study was to determine the feasibility of measuring local salivary cytokine levels using buccal sponges in patients receiving chemo-radiation for head and neck malignancies.
Patients and methods
11 patients with epithelial malignancies of the head and neck were recruiting to this study. All patients received radiotherapy to the head and neck region with doses ranging between 60 – 67.5 Gy. Chemotherapy was delivered concurrently with radiation in all patients. Salivary samples were obtained from high dose and low dose regions prior to treatment and at three intervals during treatment for assessment of cytokine levels (IL-4, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, EGF, MCP-1, TNF-α, and VEGF).
Cytokine levels were detectable in the salivary samples. Salivary cytokine levels of IL-4, IL-6, IL-8, EGF, MCP-1, TNF- α , and VEGF were higher in the high dose region compared to the low dose region at all time points (p < 0.05). A trend toward an increase in cytokine levels as radiation dose increased was observed for IL-6, IL-8, MCP-1, and TNF-α.
Assessment of salivary cytokine levels may provide a novel method to follow local cytokine levels during radiotherapy and may provide a mechanism to study cytokine levels in a regional manner.