We aimed to evaluate the association of circulating growth differentiation factor 15 (GDF-15) with cachexia symptoms and the biological activity of advanced pancreatic cancer (APC). Treat-ment-naïve patients with liver metastasis of APC or with benign pancreatic disease were retrospec-tively analyzed. Clinical data, blood samples, and biopsy specimens of liver metastasis were collected prior to anti-cancer treatment. Serum GDF-15 levels and multiple protein expressions in lysates extracted from liver metastasis were measured by enzyme-linked immuno-sorbent assay and reverse-phase protein array, respectively. The cut-off for serum GDF-15 was determined as 3356.6 pg/mL, the mean plus two standard deviations for benign pancreatic disease. The high-GDF-15 group was characterized as showing low Karnofsky performance status (KPS) (p = 0.037), poor Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status (ECOG-PS) (p = 0.049), severe appetite loss (p = 0.011), and high serum levels of carbohydrate antigen 19-9 (p = 0.019) and C-reactive protein (p = 0.009). Tumors of the high-GDF-15 group expressed high levels of phosphorylated (p)JNK (p = 0.007) and pAkt (p = 0.040). APC patients with high serum GDF-15 showed signatures of cachexia and activation of the signaling pathways involving Akt and JNK in the tumor. This study indicated circulating GDF-15 could be associated with cachectic symptoms in APC.
- Cancer cachexia
- Growth differentiation factor 15
- Pancreatic cancer