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J Natl Cancer Inst. 2015 Nov 23;108(4). pii: djv363. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djv363. Print 2016 Apr.

Prediagnosis Plasma Adiponectin in Relation to Colorectal Cancer Risk According to KRAS Mutation Status.

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Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA (KI, RN, MY, PL, ZRQ, SAK, KM, YS, YI, CSF, SO); Laboratory of Human Carcinogenesis, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD (KI, CCH); Division of Pathology, The Cancer Institute, Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research, Tokyo, Japan (KI); Department of Nutrition (MS, RN, EG, KW), Department of Epidemiology (MS, EG, SO), and Department of Biostatistics (RN), Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA; Channing Division of Network Medicine, Department of Medicine (SJ, XZ, EG, CSF, EC, ATC) and Department of Pathology (SO), Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA; Division of Gastroenterology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA (PL, ATC); Department of Oncology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada (MNP); Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA (CSM); Section of Endocrinology, Boston VA Healthcare System, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA (CSM); Department of Dermatology, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Province, RI (EC).



Low levels of adiponectin (ADIPOQ; HGNC ID; HGNC:13633), an adipokine, are associated with obesity, adiposity, excess energy balance, and increased risk of colorectal neoplasia. Given the reported association of increased body mass index (BMI) and low-level physical activity with KRAS-mutated colorectal tumor, we hypothesized that low-level plasma adiponectin might be associated with increased risk of KRAS-mutant colorectal carcinoma but not with risk of KRAS wild-type carcinoma.


We conducted molecular pathological epidemiology research using a nested case-control study design (307 incident rectal and colon cancer case patients and 593 matched control individuals) within prospective cohort studies, the Nurses' Health Study (152 case patients and 297 control individuals, with blood collection in 1989-1990) and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (155 case patients and 296 control individuals, with blood collection in 1993-1995). Multivariable conditional logistic regression models and two-sided likelihood ratio tests were used to assess etiologic heterogeneity of the associations.


The association of low-level plasma adiponectin with colorectal cancer risk statistically significantly differed by KRAS mutation status (P heterogeneity = .004). Low levels of plasma adiponectin were associated with KRAS-mutant colorectal cancer (for the lowest vs highest tertile: multivariable odds ratio [OR] = 2.83, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.50 to 5.34, P trend = .002) but not with KRAS wild-type cancer (for the lowest vs highest tertile: multivariable OR = 0.83, 95% CI = 0.49 to 1.43, P trend = .48). In secondary analyses, the association between plasma adiponectin and colorectal cancer did not appreciably differ by BRAF or PIK3CA oncogene mutation status.


Low-level plasma adiponectin is associated with KRAS-mutant colorectal cancer risk but not with KRAS wild-type cancer risk.

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