Dec. 15, 2008 Researchers from the University of Alcalá (UAH) have concluded that there could be a link between the high expression of proinflammatory cytokines and high levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA) with the progression of prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is one of the most common tumours affecting the male population, and a digital rectal examination is the main method for an early detection. Several years ago, prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels where introduced as a diagnostic test and follow-up of the disease, but there are alternative situations such as manipulation of the prostate gland in a biopsy or a rectal exam, and other benign diseases like hyperplasia, that cause a temporary elevation of PSA levels leading to false positives. The opposite is also true, since normal levels of PSA have been measured in patients suffering the tumoural pathology. Therefore the prostate specific antigen is not an indication of the degree of development of the disease.
The researchers of the department of genetics and cell biology at the University of Alcalá decided to look for new prognostic markers that together with the PSA would increase the diagnostic specificity of the disease. The molecules selected for the study where Proinflammatory Cytokines that already play an important role in the development of the cancer. Their work consisted in relating the expression of different proinflammatory cytokines, interleukins 1 & 6 and the necrosis factor-alpha (TFN-a), with the levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA) in blood serum, both for normal patients (without tumoural pathology), as well as for pathologic conditions (hyperplasia and cancer), while also relating them to their role in tumour progression as stated by Mar Royuela.
To achieve this, they studied prostate samples of healthy patients with benign hyperplasia and with prostate cancer in collaboration with the researchers from the Université du 7 Novembre à Carthage of Tunisia. The results of the study, published in the journal Cancer detection and prevention, indicate that there could be a link between high expression of proinflammatory cytokines IL-1, TNF- a and IL-6 and high seric levels of PSA with the progression of the cancer. It is possible that a better understanding of the biological mechanism of such an association could lead to a therapeutic target in patients suffering from a prostate pathology, as the professor of Alcalá University explains.
The research group for solid tumour cellular biology and tissue regeneration at the UAH has dedicated over 10 years to the study of histology and cellular biology of the healthy and anomalous human prostate; work that was complemented by the study of breast cancer. Their line of thinking focuses on the intermediaries in the different transduction paths initiated by the TNF-alpha/ IL-1 that activate different transcription factors involved in cellular proliferation.
“Cancer is a complex process that involves many factors. Only by knowing most of them we will be able to find an effective therapy”, Professor Royuela states. “In order to achieve this objective the investigation must continue. In our case, we propose to study one of bifurcations in the transcription routes which lead to the activation of NF-kB. In the future, we will complement our research with the study of the link between these paths and the family of proteins that inhibits apoptosis (cell death) and which acts mainly on caspases”, concludes the researcher of Alcalá University.
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