Thursday, March 3, 2016
Research from an investigator at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and colleagues from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and other facilities, shows differences in a certain type of small protein vary by race and may contribute differently to the development of lung cancer in African Americans and European Americans
African Americans have a higher chance of developing lung cancer and have lower lung cancer survival rates as compared to European Americans, which research shows may be due to differences in genetics as well as other factors. Identification of biomarkers that would uniquely distinguish African Americans at a high risk of lung cancer may help to bridge the gap in lung cancer racial health disparities. The research looked at cytokines, which are small proteins released by cells that affect communication between cells. The research team hypothesized that a difference in serum cytokine levels between the two populations may yield some answers. They analyzed the levels of ten serum cytokines in blood samples from over 450 African-American and European-American lung cancer patients or healthy adults. They found that the levels of six cytokines were significantly higher among European Americans than African Americans. The levels of two cytokines were associated with lung cancer in both races, but other elevated cytokine levels were associated with lung cancer only in African Americans. These findings suggest that cytokine levels in the blood vary by race and may contribute to lung cancer differently between African Americans and European Americans.