Symptomscore vs cytokines

Published: 7 January 2022| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/p8g3znzspb.1
Camilla Nilsberth


Context Patients with palliative-stage cancer often suffer from a variety of debilitating symptoms which have been shown to appear in clusters. It is suggested that cytokines cause many such symptoms, and elevated cytokine production has been shown to correlate with symptoms. However, symptom clusters have not been thoroughly analyzed in relation to cytokine clusters. Objectives To identify symptom clusters and cytokine clusters in Swedish cancer patients, and to investigate correlations between the identified symptom clusters and cytokine clusters. Methods A questionnaire (EORTC QLQ-C15-PAL) was completed by 110 cancer patients, with blood samples taken at two time points four weeks apart. MSD assays were used to analyze 23 cytokines. Statistical analysis was performed using principal component analysis of symptoms and cytokines, followed by correlation analysis of the obtained clusters. Results Three symptom clusters were identified: i) pain-sleep disorder, ii) gastro-intestinal-fatigue, iii) physical functioning. The cytokines were divided into three clusters that can be characterized as i) pro-tumorigenic, ii) cell-mediated immune response and iii) proinflammatory. At the second time point, a fourth cytokine cluster was isolated iv) immunostimulation. Correlations were found at both time points between the proinflammatory cytokine cluster and the physical functioning symptom cluster, and at the week four time point between the proinflammatory cytokine cluster and the gastro-intestinal-fatigue symptom cluster. Conclusion We show a correlation between symptom clusters and the proinflammatory cytokine cluster. Proinflammatory cytokines are known to cause symptoms that resemble palliative cancer symptoms. Increased knowledge of biochemical processes and their effect on patients’ wellbeing may give clues for counteracting symptoms that affect quality of life in palliative cancer care.



Universitetssjukhuset i Linkoping


Cancer, Palliative Care, Cytokines, Symptom