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PLoS One. 2019 Mar 18;14(3):e0213602. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0213602. eCollection 2019.

Plasma cytokine levels and the presence of colorectal cancer.

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Shinshu University, Graduate School of Science & Technology, Department of Mechanical Engineering & Robotics, Ueda, Nagano, Japan.
Division of Epidemiology, Center for Public Health Sciences, National Cancer Center, Tokyo, Japan.
Center for Public Health Sciences, National Cancer Center, Tokyo, Japan.
Section of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, UCLA Health Sciences Center, Los Angeles, CA, United States of America.
Shinshu University School of Medicine, Department of Comprehensive Cancer Therapy, Matsumoto, Nagano, Japan.



Cancer-related activation of cytokine networks are central aspects of tumor development. The goal of the study was to examine the possibility of plasma cytokines for the screening of colorectal cancer (CRC).


We carried out a multicenter, hospital-based case-control study in 66 adult Japanese patients with CRC and 87 healthy adult Japanese. A multiplex bead array immunoassay was used to examine 27 different plasma cytokines. Their association with the presence of CRC was evaluated by logistic regression analysis after adjusting for potential confounding factors.


Thirteen plasma cytokines were notably associated with the presence of CRC (p< 0.05). Receiver operating characteristic analysis revealed that the combinatorial assessment of some of these plasma cytokines showed "good" capability for discriminating between CRC patients and control subjects (area under the curve (AUC): 0.819 for the combination of IL-9, Eotaxin, G-CSF, and TNF-α; 0.832 for the combination of IL-4, IL-8, Eotaxin, IP-10, and TNF-α). Individual cytokine assessments presented lower AUCs (0.657-0.755) than the combinatorial cytokine assessments.


The levels of several plasma cytokines varied significantly between CRC patients and control subjects, suggesting the possibility of differentially expressed plasma cytokines as potential biomarkers for detecting the presence of CRC. Our results should be validated in other populations.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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