Serum cytokine profiling as a diagnostic and prognostic tool in ovarian cancer: a potential role for interleukin 7

Clin Cancer Res. 2007 Apr 15;13(8):2385-91. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-06-1828.


Purpose: To evaluate if serum cytokine levels could be used as diagnostic or prognostic markers in ovarian cancer.

Experimental design: A cytokine bead array was done to simultaneously analyze 14 cytokines in the sera of 187 ovarian cancer patients with complete clinicopathologic data and follow-up, 45 patients with benign ovarian tumors, and 50 healthy controls. Serum levels of the well-known serum tumor marker CA-125 were routinely measured in all patients.

Results: Serum levels of CA-125, interleukin 6 (IL-6), IL-7, and IL-10 were elevated in ovarian cancer patients compared with patients with benign ovarian tumors. Analyzing the cytokines in combination with CA-125 showed that a combination of IL-7 and CA-125 serum levels could accurately predict 69% of the ovarian cancer patients, without falsely classifying patients with benign pelvic mass. The cytokines IL-6, IL-7, IL-8, IL-10, monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1), and IP-10 and CA-125 were associated with disease-free and overall survival in univariate analysis. In multivariate analysis, IL-7 and IP-10 were independent predictors of overall survival, although after inclusion of the clinicopathologic parameters, only stage and residual disease remained as independent predictors of survival.

Conclusions: IL-7 levels were found to be strongly associated with ovarian cancer and could be used in combination with CA-125 to distinguish between malignant and benign ovarian tumors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • CA-125 Antigen / blood
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Cytokines / blood*
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-7 / blood*
  • Interleukin-7 / genetics
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / genetics
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / immunology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / therapy
  • Prognosis


  • CA-125 Antigen
  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-7