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Role of Interleukin-7 in the Development of and Recovery from Radiation-Induced Lymphopenia: A Post-hoc Analysis of a Prospective Cohort

 Hwa Kyung Byun  ;  Seung Yeun Chung  ;  Kyoung-Jin Kim  ;  Jinsil Seong 
 CANCER RESEARCH AND TREATMENT, Vol.53(4) : 962-972, 2021-10 
Journal Title
Issue Date
Interleukin-7 ; Lymphocyte count ; Lymphopenia ; Radiotherapy
Purpose: Radiation-induced lymphopenia is associated with worse outcomes in solid tumors. We assessed the impact of interleukin-7 (IL-7), a key cytokine in lymphocyte homeostasis, on radiation-induced lymphopenia.

Materials and methods: A post-hoc analysis was performed in a prospective cohort of 98 patients with hepatocellular carcinoma who were treated with radiotherapy in 2016-2018. Blood IL-7 levels were assayed before and at the end of radiotherapy. Acute severe lymphopenia (ASL) was defined as a total lymphocyte count of < 200/μL during radiotherapy. Cox and logistic regression analyses were performed to identify predictors of survival and ASL development, respectively.

Results: Patients with ASL (n=41) had significantly poorer overall survival than those without (12.0 months vs. 25.3 months, p=0.001). Patients with lymphocyte recovery showed significantly longer overall survival than those without (21.8 months vs. 10.3 months, p=0.042). ASL was an independent predictor of poor survival (hazard ratio, 2.07; p=0.015). Patients with ASL had significantly lower pre-radiotherapy IL-7 levels (2.07 pg/mL vs. 3.01 pg/mL, p=0.010). A high pre-radiotherapy IL-7 level was an independent predictor of a reduced risk of ASL development (hazard ratio, 0.40; p=0.004). IL-7 levels reflected a feedback response to ASL, with a higher ΔIL-7 in patients with ASL and a lower ΔIL-7 in those without ASL (0.48 pg/mL vs. -0.66 pg/mL, p < 0.001). Post-radiotherapy IL-7 levels were significantly positively correlated with the total lymphocyte counts at 2 months.

Conclusion: IL-7 is associated with the development of and recovery from ASL, which may impact survival. To overcome radiation-induced lymphopenia, a novel strategy using IL-7 may be considered.
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1. College of Medicine (의과대학) > Dept. of Radiation Oncology (방사선종양학교실) > 1. Journal Papers
Yonsei Authors
Byun, Hwa Kyung(변화경) ORCID logo https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8964-6275
Seong, Jin Sil(성진실) ORCID logo https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1794-5951
Chung, Seung Yeun(정승연) ORCID logo https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3877-6950
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