‘Heat map’ of blood proteins may shed light on cervical cancer

January 16, 2014

A small, preliminary study suggests that measurement of heat changes in blood proteins may have potential in detection and staging of cervical cancer. Published in PLoS One, the report describes what may be a unique plasma thermal profile for different disease stages that could help distinguish them from healthy tissue.

 

A small, preliminary study suggests that measurement of heat changes in blood proteins may have potential in detection and staging of cervical cancer. Published in PLoS One, the report describes what may be a unique plasma thermal profile for different disease stages that could help distinguish them from healthy tissue.

For the analysis, researchers from the University of Louisville used plasma samples from 71 women ages 18 to 69 (mean 38.7 years). Sixty-seven were collected by the Division of Gynecologic Oncology from attendees at an oncology clinic with biopsy-proven cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) and invasive cervical carcinoma (IC) (CIN 1 = 3, CIN 2 = 4, CIN 2-3 = 3, CIN 3 = 22, IC = 35); 4 samples were from healthy volunteers with no history of abnormal Pap smears or cancer. 

Studies of the samples were performed with differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), which measures heat flow rate, and mass spectrometry (MS).  Based on the results, thermograms were created for five groups: healthy controls, LSIL (low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion or CIN 1), HSIL (high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion or CIN 2 or 3), early stage IC (stage I) and advanced IC (stages II-IV).

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According to the researchers, the thermograms “not only differentiated healthy control subjects from precancerous CIN and IC but also showed a clear distinction between HSIL from both controls and IC and FIGO Stage I IC from more advanced IC.” The “heat maps” significantly discriminated extent of disease, they said, with no clear effect of demographic factors such as age, ethnicity, smoking status, or parity.

Of most clinical relevance was the strong differentiation on the thermograms between samples from healthy controls and IC, and in the group with IC between FIGO stage I advanced cancer. The authors concluded that although their study was small and preliminary, it suggests that DSC has potential as a complement to current diagnostic and staging tools for cervical cancer. 

 

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