Postdiagnosis loss of skeletal muscle, but not adipose tissue, is associated with shorter survival of patients with advanced pancreatic cancer

Ana Babic, Michael H. Rosenthal, William R. Bamlet, Naoki Takahashi, Motokazu Sugimoto, Laura V. Danai, Vicente Morales-Oyarvide, Natalia Khalaf, Richard F. Dunne, Lauren K. Brais, Marisa W. Welch, Caitlin L. Zellers, Courtney Dennis, Nader Rifai, Carla M. Prado, Bette Caan, Tilak K. Sundaresan, Jeffrey A. Meyerhardt, Matthew H. Kulke, Clary B. ClishKimmie Ng, Matthew G. Vander Heiden, Gloria M. Petersen, Brian M. Wolpin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Pancreatic cancer is associated with development of cachexia, a wasting syndrome thought to limit survival. Few studies have longitudinally quantified peripheral tissues or identified biomarkers predictive of future tissue wasting. Methods: Adipose and muscle tissue were measured by computed tomography (CT) at diagnosis and 50 to 120 days later in 164 patients with advanced pancreatic cancer. Tissue changes and survival were evaluated by Cox proportional hazards regression. Baseline levels of circulating markers were examined in relation to future tissue wasting. Results: Compared with patients in the bottom quartile of muscle change per 30 days (average gain of 0.8 ± 2.0 cm2), those in the top quartile (average loss of 12.9 ± 4.9 cm2) had a hazard ratio (HR) for death of 2.01 [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.12-3.62]. Patients in the top quartile of muscle attenuation change (average decrease of 4.9 ± 2.4 Hounsfield units) had an HR of 2.19 (95% CI, 1.18-4.04) compared with those in the bottom quartile (average increase of 2.4 ± 1.6 Hounsfield units). Changes in adipose tissue were not associated with survival. Higher plasma branched chain amino acids (BCAA; P = 0.004) and lower monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1; P = 0.005) at diagnosis were associated with greater future muscle loss. Conclusions: In patients with advanced pancreatic cancer, muscle loss and decrease in muscle density in 2 to 4 months after diagnosis were associated with reduced survival. BCAAs and MCP-1 levels at diagnosis were associated with subsequent muscle loss. Impact: BCAAs and MCP-1 levels at diagnosis could identify a high-risk group for future tissue wasting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2062-2069
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Oncology


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