Background: Despite growing recognition of an etiologic role for inflammation in lung carcinogenesis, few prospective epidemiologic studies have comprehensively investigated the association of circulating inflammation markers with lung cancer.
Methods: We conducted a nested case-control study (n = 526 lung cancer patients and n = 592 control subjects) within the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial. Control subjects were matched to lung cancer case patients on age, sex, follow-up time (median = 2.9 years), randomization year, and smoking (pack-years and time since quitting). Serum levels of 77 inflammation markers were measured using a Luminex bead-based assay. Conditional logistic regression and weighted Cox models were used to estimate odds ratios (ORs) and cumulative risks, respectively.
Results: Of 68 evaluable markers, 11 were statistically significantly associated with lung cancer risk (P trend across marker categories < .05), including acute-phase proteins (C-reactive protein [CRP], serum amyloid A [SAA]), proinflammatory cytokines (soluble tumor necrosis factor receptor 2 [sTNFRII]), anti-inflammatory cytokines (interleukin 1 receptor antagonist [IL-1RA]), lymphoid differentiation cytokines (interleukin 7 [IL-7]), growth factors (transforming growth factor alpha [TGF-A]), and chemokines (epithelial neutrophil-activating peptide 78 [ENA 78/CXCL5], monokine induced by gamma interferon [MIG/CXCL9], B cell-attracting chemokine 1 [BCA-1/CXCL13], thymus activation regulated chemokine [TARC/CCL17], macrophage-derived chemokine [MDC/CCL22]). Elevated marker levels were associated with increased lung cancer risk, with odds ratios comparing the highest vs the lowest group ranging from 1.47 (IL-7) to 2.27 (CRP). For IL-1RA, elevated levels were associated with decreased lung cancer risk (OR = 0.71; 95% confidence interval = 0.51 to 1.00). Associations did not differ by smoking, lung cancer histology, or latency. A cross-validated inflammation score using four independent markers (CRP, BCA-1/CXCL13, MDC/CCL22, and IL-1RA) provided good separation in 10-year lung cancer cumulative risks among former smokers (quartile [Q] 1 = 1.1% vs Q4 = 3.1%) and current smokers (Q1 = 2.3% vs Q4 = 7.9%) even after adjustment for smoking.
Conclusions: Some circulating inflammation marker levels are associated with prospective lung cancer risk.