Elevated serum levels of cardiovascular biomarkers are associated with progression of renal cancer

Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is a hypervascular tumour due to high constitutive production of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which is activated by hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF). Elevated levels of cardiovascular peptides, including brain natriuretic peptide (BNP), have been reported in patients with cancer, regardless of whether they have overt cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, it has been demonstrated that hypoxia stimulates BNP production by an HIF-dependent manner. However, the clinical implications of such cardiovascular peptides in patients with RCC have not been assessed.

In patients with clear cell RCC who underwent nephrectomy, we investigated the relationship between the serum level of BNP or N-terminal pro-BNP (NT-proBNP) and various clinicopathological characteristics, including serum VEGF and expression of BNP and HIF-2 alpha in the primary tumour.

Elevated preoperative serum levels of BNP, NT-proBNP and VEGF, as well as increased tumour expression of HIF-2 alpha, were associated with a worse performance status, local invasion, distant metastasis and shorter overall survival. HIF-2 alpha expression showed a positive correlation with the preoperative serum VEGF level, while there was no relation between the serum levels of BNP/NT-proBNP and VEGF or tumour expression of HIF-2 alpha. BNP expression was very low in both tumour tissues and normal kidney tissues. Serum levels of BNP, NT-proBNP and VEGF all decreased significantly after nephrectomy.

Our findings suggested that the preoperative serum levels of BNP and NT-proBNP are markers of tumour progression, as well as indicators of subclinical functional and structural myocardial damage in patients with advanced RCC.

Open heart. 2018 Jan 03*** epublish ***

Takao Kamai, Yuumi Tokura, Toshitaka Uematsu, Kazumasa Sakamoto, Issei Suzuki, Kohei Takei, Takahiro Narimatsu, Tsunehito Kambara, Hideo Yuki, Hironori Betsunoh, Hideyuki Abe, Yoshitatsu Fukabori, Masahiro Yashi, Ken-Ichiro Yoshida

Department of Urology, Dokkyo Medical University, Mibu, Tochigi, Japan.