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

Vitamin C may encourage blood cancer stem cells to die

August 17, 2017
Vitamin C may "tell" faulty stem cells in the bone marrow to mature and die normally, instead of multiplying to cause blood cancers. This is the finding of a study led by researchers from Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone ...

Outdoor light at night linked with increased breast cancer risk in women

August 17, 2017
Women who live in areas with higher levels of outdoor light at night may be at higher risk for breast cancer than those living in areas with lower levels, according to a large long-term study from Harvard T.H. Chan School ...

Scientists develop novel immunotherapy technology for prostate cancer

August 17, 2017
A study led by scientists at The Wistar Institute describes a novel immunotherapeutic strategy for the treatment of cancer based on the use of synthetic DNA to directly encode protective antibodies against a cancer specific ...

Toxic formaldehyde is produced inside our own cells, scientists discover

August 16, 2017
New research has revealed that some of the toxin formaldehyde in our bodies does not come from our environment - it is a by-product of an essential reaction inside our own cells. This could provide new targets for developing ...

Cell cycle-blocking drugs can shrink tumors by enlisting immune system in attack on cancer

August 16, 2017
In the brief time that drugs known as CDK4/6 inhibitors have been approved for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer, doctors have made a startling observation: in certain patients, the drugs—designed to halt cancer ...

Researchers find 'switch' that turns on immune cells' tumor-killing ability

August 16, 2017
Molecular biologists led by Leonid Pobezinsky and his wife and research collaborator Elena Pobezinskaya at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have published results that for the first time show how a microRNA molecule ...

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.