Combining physical and biologic parameters to predict radiation-induced lung toxicity in patients with non-small-cell lung cancer treated with definitive radiation therapy

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2012 Oct 1;84(2):e217-22. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2012.03.067.


Purpose: To investigate the plasma dynamics of 5 proinflammatory/fibrogenic cytokines, including interleukin-1beta (IL-1β), IL-6, IL-8, tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), and transforming growth factor beta1 (TGF-β1) to ascertain their value in predicting radiation-induced lung toxicity (RILT), both individually and in combination with physical dosimetric parameters.

Methods and materials: Treatments of patients receiving definitive conventionally fractionated radiation therapy (RT) on clinical trial for inoperable stages I-III lung cancer were prospectively evaluated. Circulating cytokine levels were measured prior to and at weeks 2 and 4 during RT. The primary endpoint was symptomatic RILT, defined as grade 2 and higher radiation pneumonitis or symptomatic pulmonary fibrosis. Minimum follow-up was 18 months.

Results: Of 58 eligible patients, 10 (17.2%) patients developed RILT. Lower pretreatment IL-8 levels were significantly correlated with development of RILT, while radiation-induced elevations of TGF-ß1 were weakly correlated with RILT. Significant correlations were not found for any of the remaining 3 cytokines or for any clinical or dosimetric parameters. Using receiver operator characteristic curves for predictive risk assessment modeling, we found both individual cytokines and dosimetric parameters were poor independent predictors of RILT. However, combining IL-8, TGF-ß1, and mean lung dose into a single model yielded an improved predictive ability (P<.001) compared to either variable alone.

Conclusions: Combining inflammatory cytokines with physical dosimetric factors may provide a more accurate model for RILT prediction. Future study with a larger number of cases and events is needed to validate such findings.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / blood
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / radiotherapy*
  • Cytokines / blood*
  • Dose Fractionation, Radiation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-1beta / blood
  • Interleukin-6 / blood
  • Interleukin-8 / blood
  • Lung / radiation effects*
  • Lung Neoplasms / blood
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Lung Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Radiation Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Radiotherapy, Conformal / adverse effects
  • Radiotherapy, Conformal / methods
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1 / blood
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / blood


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-1beta
  • Interleukin-6
  • Interleukin-8
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha