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Blood. 2001 Jan 1;97(1):256-63.

Interleukin-6 and interleukin-10 levels in chronic lymphocytic leukemia: correlation with phenotypic characteristics and outcome.

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  • 1Departments of Leukemia, Laboratory Medicine, and Bioimmunotherapy, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


The objective of this study was to examine the correlation between serum interleukin-6 (IL-6) and IL-10 levels and outcome in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Serum IL-6 and IL-10 levels were measured by enzyme-linked immunoabsorbent assays from 159 and 151 CLL patients, respectively, and from healthy control subjects (n = 55 [IL-6]; n = 37 [IL-10]). Cytokine levels were correlated with clinical features and survival. Serum IL-6 levels were higher in CLL patients (median, 1.45 pg/mL; range, undetectable to 110 pg/mL) than in control subjects (median, undetectable; range, undetectable to 4. 30 pg/mL) (P <.0001). Serum IL-10 levels were higher in CLL patients (median, 5.04 pg/mL; range, undetectable to 74 pg/mL) than in normal volunteers (median, undetectable; range, undetectable to 13.68 pg/mL) (P <.00001). Assays measuring both Epstein-Barr virus-derived and human IL-10 yielded higher values than assays measuring primarily human IL-10 (P <.05). Patients with elevation of serum IL-6 or IL-10 levels, or both, had worse median and 3-year survival (log rank P <.001) and unfavorable characteristics (prior treatment, elevated beta(2)-microglobulin or lactate dehydrogenase, or Rai stage III or IV). Elevated IL-6 and IL-10 levels were independent prognostic factors for survival when analyzed individually or in combination (Cox regression analysis). However, if beta(2)-microglobulin was incorporated into the analysis, it was selected as an independent prognostic feature, and IL-6/IL-10 were no longer selected. In patients with CLL, serum IL-6 and IL-10 (viral and human) levels are elevated and correlate with adverse disease features and short survival. In multivariate analysis, however, beta(2)-microglobulin is the most important prognostic factor.

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