Researchers develop specific tests to identify cancer biomarkers in dermatomyositis

Researchers from major universities in the U.S. have developed specific tests to identify cancer biomarkers in patients with dermatomyositis—a systemic inflammatory disease associated with increased risk of malignancy. According to study findings published in the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) journal, Arthritis & Rheumatism, the assays detect antibodies against anti-transcriptional intermediary factor-1 (TIF-1γ) and nuclear matrix protein NXP-2.

Patients with dermatomyositis experience muscle weakness, skin inflammation, and sometimes inflammation of the lung. Most patients with dermatomyositis have auto-antibodies circulating in their bodies that cause distinct clinical disease features. Medical evidence suggests that these auto-antibodies in dermatomyositis patients stem from specific immune responses that shape various characteristics (phenotypes). In addition, up to 20% of those with dermatomyositis are at increased risk of malignancies.

"For the physician treating patients with dermatomyositis, identifying those at higher risk for cancer is a top priority," explains Dr. David Fiorentino from Stanford University in Redwood City, Cal. "Our team focused on creating specific tests to detect antibodies against two specific proteins and then testing if those antibodies can identify dermatomyositis patients at higher risk of cancer."

The team used both immunoblotting and immunoprecipitation techniques to detect antibodies against TIF-1? and NXP-2 proteins. Blood analysis was performed on 111 patients from Stanford University Dermatology Clinic and 102 patients from the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) Myositis Center. Both groups were similar in gender and age at diagnosis.

Results show that 17% and 38% of subjects in the two cohorts combined had antibodies against NXP-2 and TIF-1?, respectively. Using the specific assays, researchers found 83% of dermatomyositis with cancer had a reaction to NXP-2 or TIF-1?. Further analysis indicates that cancer, older age, and male gender were linked to NXP-2 or TIF-1? antibodies, with anti-NXP-2 specifically associated with cancer in men.

"Our findings confirm the link between cancer and age in dermatomyositis, with a sharp increase in frequency at roughly 60 years of age." concludes Dr. Fiorentino. "By determining the presence or absence of NXP-2 and TIF-1? antibodies, we believe that this will aid clinicians in identifying those with the highest cancer risk."

More information: "Most Patients with Cancer-Associated Dermatomyositis have Antibodies To Nuclear Matrix Protein Nxp-2 or Transcription Intermediary Factor 1-Gamma." David F. Fiorentino, Lorinda S. Chung, Lisa Christopher-Stine, Lisa Zaba, Shufeng Li, Andrew L. Mammen, Antony Rosen and Livia Casciola-Rosen. Arthritis & Rheumatism; Published Online: September 3, 2013 DOI: 10.1002/art.38093

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Etanercept shows promise for treating dermatomyositis

Jun 17, 2011

A multicenter pilot study of etanercept for treatment of dermatomyositis found no major safety concerns and many patients treated with the drug were successfully weaned from steroid therapy. These results are encouraging, ...

Recommended for you

Cartilage actively contributes to arthritis

Sep 12, 2014

Melbourne researchers have discovered that cartilage plays an active role in the destruction and remodelling of joints seen in rheumatoid arthritis, rather than being an 'innocent bystander' as previously ...

Blocking one receptor could halt rheumatoid arthritis

Sep 10, 2014

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine have shown for the first time how the activation of a receptor provokes the inflammation and bone degradation of rheumatoid arthritis—and ...

User comments