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Differences in Circulating Extracellular Vesicle and Soluble Cytokines in Older Versus Younger Breast Cancer Patients With Distinct Symptom Profiles.


Because extracellular vesicle (EV)-associated cytokines, both encapsulated and surface bound, have been associated with symptom severity, and may vary over the lifespan, they may be potential biomarkers to uncover underlying mechanisms of various conditions. This study evaluated the associations of soluble and EV-associated cytokine concentrations with distinct symptom profiles reported by 290 women with breast cancer prior to surgery. Patients were classified into older (≥60 years, n = 93) and younger (< 60 years, n = 197) cohorts within two previously identified distinct symptom severity profiles, that included pain, depressive symptoms, sleep disturbance, and fatigue (i.e., High Fatigue Low Pain and All Low). EVs were extracted using ExoQuick. Cytokine concentrations were determined using Luminex multiplex assay. Mann Whitney U test evaluated the differences in EV and soluble cytokine levels between symptom classes and between and within the older and younger cohorts adjusting for Karnofsky Performance Status (KPS) score, body mass index (BMI), and stage of disease. Partial correlation analyses were run between symptom severity scores and cytokine concentrations. Results of this study suggest that levels of cytokine concentrations differ between EV and soluble fractions. Several EV and soluble pro-inflammatory cytokines had positive associations with depressive symptoms and fatigue within both age cohorts and symptom profiles. In addition, in the older cohort with High Fatigue Low Pain symptom profile, EV GM-CSF concentrations were higher compared to the All Low symptom profile (p < 0.05). Albeit limited by a small sample size, these exploratory analyses provide new information on the association between cytokines and symptom profiles of older and younger cohorts. Of note, unique EV-associated cytokines were found in older patients and in specific symptom classes. These results suggest that EVs may be potential biomarker discovery tools. Understanding the mechanisms that underlie distinct symptom class profiles categorized by age may inform intervention trials and offer precision medicine approaches.

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