Each year approximately 6,000 new cases of head and neck cancer are registered in Poland. Human papillomavirus (HPV) and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) have been associated with tumour formation. Cytokines have been shown to play an important role both in inflammation and carcinogenesis and they can be detected in saliva and serum with ELISA assays. Salivary biomarkers may be used as markers of early cancer detection. The aim of this study was the analysis of the serum and salivary levels of IL-10, TNF-α, TGF-β and VEGF in patients with oropharyngeal cancer and in healthy individuals. The level of these biomarkers was also analyzed in HPV- and EBV-related cases.
The study involved 78 patients with histopathologically confirmed oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma and 40 healthy controls. Serum and salivary levels of IL-10, TNF-α, TGF-β and VEGF were analyzed both in patients and in healthy individuals by ELISA method using Diaclone SAS commercially available kits (France). EBV DNA was detected by the nested PCR for amplification of EBNA-2. HPV detection and genotyping was performed using the INNO-LiPA HPV Genotyping Extraassay (Innogenetics N. V, Gent, Belgium). The obtained results were subjected to statistical analysis using Mann-Whitney and Kruskal Wallis tests. Test values of p < 0.05 were considered statistically significant.
The level of tested cytokines was higher in patients than in controls both in serum (IL-10: 2.3 pg/ml vs 1.65 pg/ml, p = 0.0003; TGF-β: 11.3 ng/ml vs 7.8 ng/ml, p = 0.0005; VEGF: 614 pg/ml vs 210 pg/ml, p = 0.0004; TNF-α: 15.0 ng/ml vs 12.90 ng/ml, p = 0.1397) as well as in saliva (IL-10: 5.9 pg/ml vs 2.5 pg/ml, p = 0.00002; TGF-β: 24.1 ng/ml vs 14.8 ng/ml, p = 0.00002; VEGF: 4321 pg/ml vs 280 pg/ml, p = 0.0000; TNF-α: 23.1 ng/ml vs 11.3 ng/ml, p = 0.00002). EBV DNA was detected in 51.3 % of patients and 20 % of controls, HPV DNA was present in 30.8 % of patients and 2,5 % of controls. The level of IL-10 was statistically higher in patients infected with EBV, HPV and co-infected with EBV/HPV. The level of TNF-α was significantly higher in patients infected with EBV, while TGF-β in patients with HPV infection and EBV/HPV co-infection.
Detection of salivary cytokines may be very helpful in early diagnosis, treatment and prognosis of OSCC.