Identification of possible genetic polymorphisms involved in cancer cachexia: a systematic review

Benjamin H L Tan, James A Ross, Stein Kaasa, Frank Skorpen, Kenneth C H Fearon, European Palliative Care Research Collaborative

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cancer cachexia is a polygenic and complex syndrome. Genetic variations in regulation of the inflammatory response, muscle and fat metabolic pathways, and pathways in appetite regulation are likely to contribute to the susceptibility or resistance to developing cancer cachexia. A systematic search of Medline and EmBase databases, covering 1986-2008 was performed for potential candidate genes/genetic polymorphisms relating to cancer cachexia. Related genes were then identified using pathway functional analysis software. All candidate genes were reviewed for functional polymorphisms or clinically significant polymorphisms associated with cachexia using the OMIM and GeneRIF databases. Genes with variants which had functional or clinical associations with cachexia and replicated in at least one study were entered into pathway analysis software to reveal possible network associations between genes. A total of 184 polymorphisms with functional or clinical relevance to cancer cachexia were identified in 92 candidate genes. Of these, 42 polymorphisms (in 33 genes) were replicated in more than one study with 13 polymorphisms found to influence two or more hallmarks of cachexia (i.e. inflammation, loss of fat mass and/or lean mass and reduced survival). Thirty-three genes were found to be significantly interconnected in two major networks with four genes (ADIPOQ, IL6, NFKB1 and TLR4) interlinking both networks. Selection of candidate genes and polymorphisms is a key element of multigene study design. The present study provides an initial framework to select genes/polymorphisms for further study in cancer cachexia, and to develop their potential as susceptibility biomarkers of developing cachexia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-77
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Medical Genetics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Cachexia
  • Genetic Association Studies
  • Genetic Markers
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms
  • Polymorphism, Genetic

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