Genetic link to prostate cancer risk in African Americans found

August 31, 2012

Prostate cancer in African-American men is associated with specific changes in the IL-16 gene, according to researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine.

The study, published online in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, establishes the association of IL-16 with prostate cancer in men of both African and European descent.

"This provides us with a new potential biomarker for prostate cancer," says principal investigator Rick Kittles, UIC associate professor of medicine in hematology/oncology.

Previously identified changes in the gene for IL-16, an immune system protein, were associated with prostate cancer in men of European descent. But the same changes in the gene's coded sequence—called "polymorphisms"—did not confer the same risk in African Americans.

Doubt was cast on IL-16's role in prostate cancer when researchers were unable to confirm that the IL-16 polymorphisms identified in whites were also important risk factors in African Americans, Kittles said.

Kittles and his colleagues used a technique called imputation—a type of statistical extrapolation—that allowed them to see new patterns of association and identify new places in the gene to look for polymorphisms. They found changes elsewhere in the IL-16 gene that were associated with prostate cancer and that were unique to African Americans.

Polymorphisms result from DNA mutations and emerge in the ancestral history of different populations. People of African descent are much more genetically diverse than whites, Kittles said, making the search for polymorphisms associated with disease more difficult.

Although the effect of the particular changes to the gene appear to be different in men of African versus European descent, it is likely that several of the in the gene alter the function of the IL-16 protein.

"This confirms the importance of IL-16 in prostate cancer and leads us in a new direction," Kittles said. "Very little research has been done on IL-16, so not much is known about it."

"We now need to explore the functional role of IL-16 to understand the role it is playing in ," he said.

Explore further: Research determines apparent genetic link to prostate cancer in African-American men

Related Stories

Research determines apparent genetic link to prostate cancer in African-American men

May 23, 2011
Some men of African descent may have a higher genetic risk of developing prostate cancer, according to research conducted at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC).

Recommended for you

Researchers unravel novel mechanism by which tumors grow resistant to radiotherapy

November 23, 2017
A Ludwig Cancer Research study has uncovered a key mechanism by which tumors develop resistance to radiation therapy and shown how such resistance might be overcome with drugs that are currently under development. The discovery ...

African Americans face highest risk for multiple myeloma yet underrepresented in research

November 23, 2017
Though African-American men are three times more likely to be diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer, most scientific research on the disease has been based on people of European descent, according to a study ...

Encouraging oxygen's assault on iron may offer new way to kill lung cancer cells

November 22, 2017
Blocking the action of a key protein frees oxygen to damage iron-dependent proteins in lung and breast cancer cells, slowing their growth and making them easier to kill. This is the implication of a study led by researchers ...

One-size treatment for blood cancer probably doesn't fit all, researchers say

November 22, 2017
Though African-American men are three times more likely to be diagnosed with a blood cancer called multiple myeloma, most scientific research on the disease has been based on people of European descent, according to a study ...

One in four U.S. seniors with cancer has had it before

November 22, 2017
(HealthDay)—For a quarter of American seniors, a cancer diagnosis signals the return of an old foe, new research shows.

Combination immunotherapy targets cancer resistance

November 22, 2017
Cancer immunotherapy drugs have had notable but limited success because in many cases, tumors develop resistance to treatment. But researchers at Yale and Stanford have identified an experimental antibody that overcomes this ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.