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Inflammation as a predictive tool for cancer

19 October 2018

Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is often associated with chronic systemic inflammation (SI). A team from the Integrative Cancer Epidemiology Programme (ICEP) assessed if DNA methylation-derived SI (mdSI) indices: Neutrophil-toLymphocyte ratio (mdNLR) and Lymphocyte-to-Monocyte ratio (mdLMR) are associated with the presence of HNSCC and overall survival (OS).

The team observed an elevated methylation-derived circulating neutrophil and monocyte count and a decreased lymphocyte count in HNSCC cases compared to controls. Similarly, HNSCC cases with poor OS showed elevated neutrophil and monocyte cell counts and a lower lymphocyte count. The similarities between DNA methylation and cell count based inflammation indices strengthens the utility of mdSI indices as a valuable research tool to estimate SI in the absence of cell count based measurement, especially in prospective studies. They demonstrated that systemic inflammation indices are associated with the presence of HNSCC. Further, the mdSI indices are sufficient to distinguish HNSCC case and controls. In the HNSCC survival dataset, lower mdLMR was associated with poorer OS. The mdSI indices may be useful as a research tool for predicting highrisk HNSCC, especially HPVnegative HNSCC where there is a lack of reliable biomarkers of detection, although this would require rigorous validation in large prospective studies.

Ambatipudi S et al. (2018). DNA methylation derived systemic inflammation indices are associated with head and neck cancer development and survival. Oral Oncology. 85, pp. 87-94.

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