Serum levels of the inflammatory markers YKL-40 and IL-6 are increased in many conditions, including cancers. We examined serum YKL-40 and IL-6 levels in patients with Hodgkin lymphoma (HL), a tumor with strong immunologic reaction to relatively few tumor cells, especially in nodular sclerosis HL.
We analyzed Danish and Swedish patients with incident HL (N=470) and population controls from Denmark (N= 245 for YKL-40; N= 348 for IL-6). Serum YKL-40 and IL-6 levels were determined by ELISA, and log-transformed data were analysed by linear regression, adjusting for age and sex.
Serum levels of YKL-40 and IL-6 were increased in HL patients compared to controls (YKL-40: 3.6-fold, IL-6: 8.3-fold; both p<0.0001). In samples from pre-treatment HL patients (N=176), levels were correlated with more advanced stages (ptrend 0.0001 for YKL-40 and 0.013 for IL-6) and in those with B symptoms, but levels were similar in nodular sclerosis and mixed cellularity subtypes, by EBV status, and in younger (<45 years old) and older patients. Patients tested soon after treatment onset had significantly lower levels than pre-treatment patients, but even >6 months after treatment onset, serum YKL-40 and IL-6 levels remained significantly increased, compared to controls. In patients who died (N=12), pre-treatment levels for both YKL-40 and IL-6 were higher than in survivors, although not statistically significantly.
Serum YKL-40 and IL-6 levels were increased in untreated HL patients and those with more advanced stages but did not differ significantly by HL histology. Following treatment, serum levels were significantly lower.