Open Access Research

Elevated levels of circulating IL-7 and IL-15 in patients with early stage prostate cancer

Chantal Mengus1*, Clémentine Le Magnen1, Emanuele Trella1, Kawa Yousef1, Lukas Bubendorf2, Maurizio Provenzano13, Alexander Bachmann4, Michael Heberer1, Giulio C Spagnoli1 and Stephen Wyler4

Author Affiliations

1 ICFS, Departments of Surgery and Biomedicine, Basel University Hospital, Basel, Switzerland

2 Institute of Pathology, Basel University Hospital, Basel, Switzerland

3 Oncology Research Unit, Division of Urology and Division of Surgical Research, Zurich University Hospital, Zurich, Switzerland

4 Department of Urology, Basel University Hospital, Basel, Switzerland

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Journal of Translational Medicine 2011, 9:162  doi:10.1186/1479-5876-9-162

Published: 26 September 2011

Abstract

Background

Chronic inflammation has been suggested to favour prostate cancer (PCA) development. Interleukins (IL) represent essential inflammation mediators. IL-2, IL-7, IL-15 and IL-21, sharing a common receptor γ chain (c-γ), control T lymphocyte homeostasis and proliferation and play major roles in regulating cancer-immune system interactions. We evaluated local IL-2, IL-7, IL-15 and IL-21 gene expression in prostate tissues from patients with early stage PCA or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). As control, we used IL-6 gene, encoding an IL involved in PCA progression. IL-6, IL-7 and IL-15 titres were also measured in patients' sera.

Methods

Eighty patients with BPH and 79 with early (1 to 2c) stage PCA were enrolled. Gene expression in prostate tissues was analyzed by quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR). Serum IL concentrations and acute phase protein titres were evaluated by ELISA. Mann-Whitney, Wilcoxon and χ2 tests were used to compare IL gene expression and serum titers in the two groups of patients. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves were constructed to evaluate the possibility to distinguish sera from different groups of patients based on IL titers.

Results

IL-2 and IL-21 gene expression was comparably detectable, with low frequency and at low extents, in PCA and BPH tissues. In contrast, IL-6, IL-7 and IL-15 genes were expressed more frequently (p < 0.0001, p = 0.0047 and p = 0.0085, respectively) and to significantly higher extents (p = 0.0051, p = 0.0310 and p = 0.0205, respectively) in early stage PCA than in BPH tissues. Corresponding proteins could be detected to significantly higher amounts in sera from patients with localized PCA, than in those from patients with BPH (p = 0.0153, p = 0.0174 and p = 0.0064, respectively). Analysis of ROC curves indicates that IL-7 (p = 0.0039), but not IL-6 (p = 0.2938) or IL-15 (p = 0.1804) titres were able to distinguish sera from patients with malignancy from those from patients with benign disease. Serum titres of C reactive (CRP), high mobility group B1 (HMGB1) and serum amyloid A (SAA) acute phase proteins were similar in both groups of patients.

Conclusions

Expression IL-7 and IL-15 genes in prostate tissues and corresponding serum titres are significantly increased in patients with early stage PCA as compared with patients with BPH.