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J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 2018 Aug;144(8):1423-1434. doi: 10.1007/s00432-018-2679-4. Epub 2018 May 25.

Relationship between TNF-α -1031T/C gene polymorphism, plasma level of TNF-α, and risk of cachexia in head and neck cancer patients.

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Department of Human Physiology, Medical University of Lublin, Radziwiłłowska 11, 20-080, Lublin, Poland.
Department of Human Physiology, Medical University of Lublin, Radziwiłłowska 11, 20-080, Lublin, Poland.
Department of Oncology, Medical University of Lublin, Lublin, Poland.



Malnutrition and cachexia are frequent among head and neck cancer (HNC) patients and these syndromes are associated with both poor quality of life and unfavorable disease prognosis. Unfortunately, there are still no established biomarkers that could predict the development of cachexia. Among potential molecular alterations related to cancer cachexia, there are single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within genes encoding pro-inflammatory cytokines such as TNF-α.


To investigate TNF-α -1031T/C SNP as a risk factor of cachexia in 62 HNC patients subjected to radiotherapy. DNA was isolated from whole blood samples and genotyping was conducted using real-time PCR method by means of TaqMan SNP Genotyping Assay. TNF-alpha Human ELISA Kit was used to determine TNF-α concentration in each extracted plasma sample. Moreover, the relationship between genotype variants of TNF-α and plasma level of TNF-α was examined. Detailed clinical-demographic and nutritional data were collected from each study participant.


CC genotype carriers were at a significantly higher risk of being qualified as cachectic compared with other genotype carriers (p = 0.044; HR = 3.724). Subjects, who carried CC genotype had significantly lower body mass compared to patients with TT and CT genotype (p = 0.045). Moreover, CC individuals had the highest TNF-α plasma level (median 10.70 ± 0.72 pg/mL, p = 0.006) among the studied cases. We also noted, that CC genotype carriers had significantly higher risk of early death incidence compared to other genotype carriers [overall survival (OS): 28 vs 38 months (HR = 3.630, p = 0.013)].


Despite the differences between SGA and NRS scoring, the presence of CC genotype could be a useful objective marker allowing for the prediction of cachexia development in both parenterally nourished and non-parenterally nourished patients. Patients with CC genotype had also the highest risk of early death incidence; therefore, such individuals should be qualified for parenteral nutrition and supportive care at the time of diagnosis to improve further therapy outcomes. Moreover, this is the first study demonstrating the relationship between TNF-α -1031T/C polymorphism and plasma level of TNF-α. This is also the first paper investigating the role of TNF-α -1031T/C in cancer cachexia.


Cachexia; Head and neck cancer; Single-nucleotide polymorphism; TNF-α

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