Metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) is a highly heterogeneous disease from a clinical, molecular, and immunological perspective. Current predictive models rely primarily in tissue based genetic analysis, which not always correlate with inflammatory response. Here we evaluated the role of a circulating inflammatory signature as a prognostic marker in mCRC.
Two hundred eleven newly diagnosed patients with mCRC were enrolled in the study. One hundred twenty-one patients had unresectable metastases, whereas ninety patients had potentially resectable liver metastases at presentation. Analysis of miR-21, IL-6, and IL-8 in the plasma of peripheral blood was performed at baseline. Patients with high circulating levels of ≥2 of the three inflammation markers (miR-21, IL-6, and IL-8) were considered to have the “Inflammation phenotype-positive CISIG”.
Positive CISIG was found in 39/90 (43%) and 50/121 (45%) patients in the resectable and unresectable cohort, respectively. In the resectable population the median relapse-free survival was 18.4 compared to 31.4 months (p = 0.001 HR 2.09, 95% CI 1.2–3.67) for positive vs. negative CISIG. In contrast, the individual components were not significant. In the same population the median overall survival was 46.2 compared to 66.0 months (p = 0.0003, HR 2.57, 95% CI 1.26–5.27) for positive vs. negative CISIG, but not significant for the individual components. In the unresectable population, the median overall survival was 13.5 compared to 25.0 months (p = 0.0008, HR 2.49, 95% CI 1.46–4.22) for positive vs. negative CISIG. IL-6 was independently prognostic with overall survival of 16.2 compared to 27.0 months (p = 0.004, HR 1.96, 95% CI 1.24–3.11) for high vs. low IL-6, but not the other components. Using a Cox regression model, we demonstrated that CISIG is an independent predictive marker of survival in patients with unresectable disease (HR 1.8, 95% CI 1.2, 2.8, p < 0.01).
In two different cohorts, we demonstrated that CISIG is a strong prognostic factor of relapse-free and overall survival of patients with mCRC. Based on these data, analysis of circulating inflammatory signaling can be complimentary to traditional molecular testing.
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Work in Dr. Calin’s laboratory is supported by National Institutes of Health (NIH/NCATS) grant UH3TR00943-01 through the NIH Common Fund, Office of Strategic Coordination (OSC), the NIH/NCI grant 1 R01 CA182905-01, a U54 grant—UPR/MDACC Partnership for Excellence in Cancer Research 2016 Pilot Project, a Team DOD (CA160445P1) grant, a Ladies Leukemia League grant, a CLL Moonshot Flagship project, a SINF 2017 grant, and the Estate of C. G. Johnson, Jr. Work in Dr. Kopetz’s laboratory is supported by NIH grants R01 CA184843, R01 CA172670, R01 CA187238, and a CRC Moonshot project.