Background: Cachexia is a wasting syndrome characterized by involuntary loss of >5% body weight due to depletion of adipose and skeletal muscle mass. In cancer, the pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6) is considered a mediator of cachexia and a potential biomarker, but the relationship between IL-6, weight loss, and cancer stage is unknown. In this study we sought to evaluate IL-6 as a biomarker of cancer cachexia while accounting for disease progression. Methods: We retrospectively studied 136 subjects with biopsy-proven pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), considering the high prevalence of cachexia is this population. Clinical data were abstracted from subjects in all cancer stages, and plasma IL-6 levels were measured using a multiplex array and a more sensitive ELISA. Data were evaluated with univariate comparisons, including Kaplan-Meier survival curves, and multivariate Cox survival models. Results: On multiplex, a total of 43 (31.4%) subjects had detectable levels of plasma IL-6, while by ELISA all subjects had detectable IL-6 levels. We found that increased plasma IL-6 levels, defined as detectable for multiplex and greater than median for ELISA, were not associated with weight loss at diagnosis, but rather with the presence of metastasis (p < 0.001 for multiplex and p = 0.007 for ELISA). Further, while >5% weight loss was not associated with worse survival, increased plasma IL-6 by either methodology was. Conclusion: Circulating IL-6 levels do not correlate with cachexia (when defined by weight loss), but rather with advanced cancer stage. This suggests that IL-6 may mediate wasting, but should not be considered a diagnostic biomarker for PDAC-induced cachexia.
- Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma
- Weight loss
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism