The anti-aging factor, klotho has been identified as a tumor suppressor in various human cancers, including lung cancer. In vitro studies provided evidence that klotho expression influences the characteristics of lung cancer cells, however, in vivo results are lacking. The aim of our study was to evaluate whether circulating klotho protein might serve as a potential biomarker of lung cancer. Blood samples were taken from 45 newly diagnosed lung cancer patients (31 NSCLC, 14 SCLC) and 43 control subjects. Plasma klotho concentration was measured using ELISA. No difference in plasma klotho values was detected between patients and control subjects (366.3 (257.9-486.8) vs. 383.5 (304.6-489.7) pg/ml respectively (median (IQR)); p > 0.05). Plasma klotho levels in patients with distant metastasis did not differ from less advanced stage disease (354.2 (306.9-433.3 vs. 328.5 (242.5-419.7) pg/ml, p > 0.05). In contrast, analyzed with one-way ANOVA, significant difference (p = 0.04) was found between the examined histological types of lung cancer: adenocarcinoma (353 (329.4-438.5) pg/ml), squamous cell carcinoma (308 (209.6-348.1) pg/ml) and small cell lung cancer (388.8 (289.9-495.4) pg/ml). However, Tukey's post hoc test did not reveal significant difference between any pairs of histological groups. There was no difference between any histological subtype and health either. Our results suggest that circulating klotho protein cannot be considered as a biomarker for lung cancer. Further studies are warranted in order to examine the relationship between klotho expression in lung tissue and circulating levels of the protein, and to explore its mechanism of action in lung cancer.
Keywords: Biomarkers; Insuline-like growth factor 1; Lung cancer; Premature aging; Tumor suppressor.