Using CTLA-4 Levels to Estimate Your Mesothelioma Survival Prognosis

Taking measurements of CTLA-4 levels in your body may be a useful way to gauge your mesothelioma survival prospects.

Researchers from the University of Genoa in Italy looked at CTLA-4 expression in tumor tissues taken from 45 mesothelioma patients and found that the protein may have prognostic value.

The scientists observed that more than half of the mesothelioma tissues they studied expressed CTLA-4. They also noted that CTLA-4 levels in those mesothelioma tissues were higher if made up of epithelioid cells, lower if made up of sarcomatoid cells.

Patients with the epithelioid type of mesothelioma are known to have better survival potential than patients with the sarcomatoid type.

What the researchers are saying here is that higher CTLA-4 may be a useful predictor of your ability to fight mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma Survival Insights Gained

The researchers also found that soluable isoform CTLA-4, rather than tissue CTLA-4, was more plentiful in sarcomatoid cells.

That means there may be at least two ways to evaluate CTLA-4 to arrive at a mesothelioma survival prognosis.

During their investigation, the researchers evaluated the presence of soluable isoform CTLA-4 in sera and in matched pleural effusions. They observed that soluable isoform CTLA-4 levels were much greater in sera than in the pleural effusions.

The researchers shared these findings in the May 2016 issue of the journal Cancer Immunology.

CTLA-4 is scientific shorthand for cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated protein 4. Mesothelioma cells that produce CTLA-4 do so in order to disrupt the operation of your body’s immune system.

Your immune system is set up to seek and destroy anything inside you that’s not supposed to be there. This includes bacteria and viruses, but also cancer. Because, if it’s alien to your healthy body, your immune system will try to purge it before it can harm you.

The way your immune system accomplishes this is by unleashing T lymphocyte cells and directing them to the place where the invading organism or cell abnormality is located.

Unfortunately, CTLA-4 is the physiological equivalent of a smoke grenade; it causes the onrushing T lymphocyte cells to become blind and confused.

As a result, the T lymphocyte cells are rendered useless against the mesothelioma cells they were sent to annihilate. The mesothelioma cells instead continue to thrive and spread.

Mesothelioma Survival Prognosis Is Focus of CTLA-4 Study

The Italian researchers in their study of CTLA-4 weren’t looking for ways to counteract the protein and thereby extend mesothelioma survival.

Their interest was purely in determining whether CTLA-4 could serve as a prognostic factor.

Indeed, that focus was made plain in the very title of their article: “CTLA-4 in Mesothelioma Patients: Tissue Expression, Body Fluid Levels and Possible Relevance as a Prognostic Factor.”

“CTLA-4 function as a negative regulator of T cell-mediated immune response is well established, whereas much less is known about the immunoregulatory role of its soluble isoform,” they wrote.

The researchers lamented that no data are available on CTLA-4 expression and prognostic impact in malignant pleural mesothelioma.

The researchers said they need now to confirm their findings about CTLA-4. They indicated such corroboration would come from work with a larger cohort of malignant pleural mesothelioma patients.