Bioanalysis Zone

Biomarker detected in blood tests could help predict risk of disease

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Biomarkers have become incredibly important in understanding the underlying mechanisms of disease. In recent years there have been numerous publications on the associations between certain biomarkers and diseases.

In a recent study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, researchers investigated whether the inflammatory biomarker 1α–acid glycoprotein (AGP) was a better indicator of mortality risk than interleukin-6 (IL-6) and C-reactive protein (CRP).

Lead researcher Professor Archana Singh-Manoux from the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research, Inserm (Paris, France) and University College London (UK) commented:“Research on biomarkers is progressing fast, and it is important to undertake checks like in the one in our study, to shape future research on biomarkers.”

“Omics technologies are exciting, as they allow the concurrent assessment of many biomarkers, some of which may turn out to be important to detect preclinical states of diseases or be markers of future disease,” Professor Singh-Manoux added.

Researchers in the study were interested in finding out whether AGP would be better associated in all-cause, cardiovascular and cancer-related mortality than the more commonly used inflammatory markers: IL-6 and CRP.

“When a recent metabolomics study highlighted the importance of AGP, our question was how relevant is this marker when compared to other known inflammatory markers”, said the professor.

The study involved analyzing AGP, IL-6 and CRP levels from fasting serum samples collected from 6545 middle aged men and women between 1997 and 1998. Patients in the study were regularly assessed until 2015.

Although IL-6 and CRP are helpful indicators as markers for short or long term mortality risk, the team were interested to find out whether AGP would prove to be a better marker and hence improve disease diagnosis.

A total of 736 deaths occurred during the length of the study. 347 of these deaths were due to cancer and the remaining 181 owing to cardiovascular disease.

Beyond the first 5 years of follow-up whilst IL-6 and CRP demonstrated stronger associations with mortality, AGP did not. Throughout the follow-up period AGP was unable to predict all-cause mortality.

According to the study only IL-6 was able to predict all-cause and cancer related mortality over the entire study period. On the other hand, CRP only predicted cardiovascular mortality.

Commenting on the new perspective their study provides, Professor Singh-Manoux stated: “The novelty of our approach lies in being able to assess risk of mortality in the short- and long-term. Our findings show IL-6, which is already known to be important to heart disease, to do better than AGP.”

It is hoped that studies like this will help further develop personalized medicine.

Paul Ridker from the Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School (Boston, Massachusetts) wrote in a related commentary: “biomarker discovery is crucial for thinking about new treatment targets. With regard to AGP, CRP and IL-6, what remains uncertain is whether reducing inflammation can reduce cardiovascular event rates.”

Sources: Singh-Manoux A, Shipley MJ, Bell JA et al. Association between inflammatory biomarkers and all-cause, cardiovascular and cancer-related mortality. Canadian Medical Association Journal doi:10.1503/cmaj.160313, (2016); http://www.cmaj.ca/site/misc/pr/28nov16_pr.xhtml

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