Background: The acellular fraction of epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) ascites promotes de novo resistance of tumor cells and thus supports the idea that tumor cells may survive in the surrounding protective microenvironment contributing to disease recurrence. Levels of the pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and IL-8 are elevated in EOC ascites suggesting that they could play a role in tumor progression.
Methods: We measured IL-6 and IL-8 levels in the ascites of 39 patients with newly diagnosed EOC. Commercially available enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was used to determine IL-6 and IL-8 ascites levels. Ascites cytokine levels were correlated with clinicopathological parameters and progression-free survival.
Results: Mean ascites levels for IL-6 and IL-8 were 6419 pg/ml (SEM: 1409 pg/ml) and 1408 pg/ml (SEM: 437 pg/ml) respectively. The levels of IL-6 and IL-8 in ascites were significantly lower in patients that have received prior chemotherapy before the surgery (Mann-Whitney U test, P = 0.037 for IL-6 and P = 0.008 for IL-8). Univariate analysis revealed that high IL-6 ascites levels (P = 0.021), serum CA125 levels (P = 0.04) and stage IV (P = 0.009) were significantly correlated with shorter progression-free survival. Including these variables in a multivariate analysis revealed that elevated IL-6 levels (P = 0.033) was an independent predictor of shorter progression-free survival.
Conclusion: Elevated IL-6, but not IL-8, ascites level is an independent predictor of shorter progression-free survival.