Purpose: To determine the frequency with which elevated plasma transforming growth factor-beta 1 (TGF beta 1) concentrations occur in lung cancer patients, to determine the kinetics of TGF beta 1 expression during and after radiotherapy and to correlate plasma TGF beta 1 levels with disease status after treatment.
Materials and methods: Plasma samples were obtained before, during and after radiotherapy in 54 patients with lung cancer and 20 normal controls. Plasma TGF beta 1 levels were measured using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.
Results: Baseline TGF beta 1 levels in lung cancer patients and normal controls were 13.0 +/- 2.5 and 4.4 +/- 0.3 ng/ml, respectively. Elevated TGF beta 1 were found in 50% (27/54) of lung cancer patients. During radiation therapy plasma TGF beta 1 levels declined, however, by the completion of treatment the mean TGF beta 1 level had not normalized in patients with lung cancer. The TGF beta 1 level at last follow-up correlated with disease status in those patients with an increased pretreatment plasma level. Three of four patients with no evidence of cancer had normal follow-up TGF beta 1 levels, compared to 2/16 patients with residual or recurrent tumor (P = 0.02).
Conclusions: Elevated plasma TGF beta 1 levels occur frequently in patients with lung cancer. In those patients with an elevated plasma TGF beta 1 level at diagnosis, monitoring this level may be useful in detecting both disease persistence and recurrence after therapy.