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Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2009 Oct 15;180(8):769-79. doi: 10.1164/rccm.200903-0400OC. Epub 2009 Jul 23.

Expression of IL-32 in human lung cancer is related to the histotype and metastatic phenotype.

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Department of Oncology and Neurosciences, Anatomic Pathology Section, G. d'Annunzio University, Italy. .



A strong link has been recently demonstrated between inflammation and lung cancer. Thus, we investigated whether the proinflammatory cytokine IL-32 may be involved in lung carcinogenesis and hence provide a novel therapeutic target.


Lung cancer subtypes display different clinical outcomes. We have set out to clarify the role of IL-32 in the physiopathology of the main histotypes.


IL-32 expression, as visualized by immunohistochemistry on 23 premalignant and 148 malignant lesions, was correlated with clinicopathological and survival data. Confocal microscopy, microdissection, and real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction were used to identify cell sources and expression levels of IL-32.


IL-32 expression was lacking in the majority of squamous-cell carcinomas (SCC) (76%) and their precursor lesions, but strongly up-regulated in most adenocarcinomas (AC) (73%) and their precursors, 64% of large-cell carcinomas, and 77% of small-cell lung cancers. Lymph node metastases frequently developed from IL-32-expressing lung cancers, and especially (82%) from those endowed with an IL-32-expressing leukocyte infiltrate (TIL) mainly composed of CD68(+) macrophages, CD4(+) T lymphocytes, and DC-SIGN(+) dendritic cells. Expression levels of IL-32 by both TIL and tumor cells (TC), particularly in AC and SCC, were paralleled by those of IL-6, IL-8, and vascular endothelial growth factor in the same cell population and correlated with high intratumor microvessel density and poor clinical outcome.


IL-32 is probably implicated in the pathogenesis of most lung cancer histotypes but unlikely in that of SCC. Its TIL and TC expression are both associated with acquisition of an invasive and metastatic phenotype and may be a useful prognostic indicator.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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