Despite growing recognition of an etiologic role for inflammation in lung carcinogenesis, few prospective epidemiologic studies have comprehensively investigated the association of circulating inflammation markers with lung cancer.
We conducted a nested case–control study (n = 526 lung cancer patients and n = 592 control subjects) within the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial. Control subjects were matched to lung cancer case patients on age, sex, follow-up time (median = 2.9 years), randomization year, and smoking (pack-years and time since quitting). Serum levels of 77 inflammation markers were measured using a Luminex bead-based assay. Conditional logistic regression and weighted Cox models were used to estimate odds ratios (ORs) and cumulative risks, respectively.
Of 68 evaluable markers, 11 were statistically significantly associated with lung cancer risk (P
trend across marker categories < .05), including acute-phase proteins (C-reactive protein [CRP], serum amyloid A [SAA]), proinflammatory cytokines (soluble tumor necrosis factor receptor 2 [sTNFRII]), anti-inflammatory cytokines (interleukin 1 receptor antagonist [IL-1RA]), lymphoid differentiation cytokines (interleukin 7 [IL-7]), growth factors (transforming growth factor alpha [TGF-A]), and chemokines (epithelial neutrophil-activating peptide 78 [ENA 78/CXCL5], monokine induced by gamma interferon [MIG/CXCL9], B cell–attracting chemokine 1 [BCA-1/CXCL13], thymus activation regulated chemokine [TARC/CCL17], macrophage-derived chemokine [MDC/CCL22]). Elevated marker levels were associated with increased lung cancer risk, with odds ratios comparing the highest vs the lowest group ranging from 1.47 (IL-7) to 2.27 (CRP). For IL-1RA, elevated levels were associated with decreased lung cancer risk (OR = 0.71; 95% confidence interval = 0.51 to 1.00). Associations did not differ by smoking, lung cancer histology, or latency. A cross-validated inflammation score using four independent markers (CRP, BCA-1/CXCL13, MDC/CCL22, and IL-1RA) provided good separation in 10-year lung cancer cumulative risks among former smokers (quartile [Q] 1 = 1.1% vs Q4 = 3.1%) and current smokers (Q1 = 2.3% vs Q4 = 7.9%) even after adjustment for smoking.
Some circulating inflammation marker levels are associated with prospective lung cancer risk.