Changes of ferritin and CRP levels in melanoma patients treated with adjuvant interferon-α (EORTC 18 952) and prognostic value on treatment outcome
Adjuvant therapy with interferon-α (IFN) only benefits a small subgroup of melanoma patients and a predictive marker selecting responders does not exist. IFN induces increased ferritin and decreased C-reactive protein (CRP) levels; however, an association with treatment effect was not studied. Serum was collected from patients participating in the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer 18 952 trial comparing adjuvant treatment with IFN to observation. Serial ferritin and CRP levels were determined using enzyme-linked immusorbent assays, before treatment and up to 24 months. Ferritin levels are influenced by sex and age; therefore ratios of serial ferritin and CRP values with corresponding pretreatment values were calculated. Cox regression model and landmark method at end of induction and 6 months were used to evaluate the association between ferritin, CRP and distant metastasis-free survival (DMFS). Baseline ferritin levels were comparable in the two treatment groups (P=0.92). However, ferritin ratios were significantly higher in IFN-treated patients (N=96) compared with untreated patients (N=21) at end of induction (mean: 2.88 vs. 0.75; P=0.0003) and at 6 months (mean: 3.18 vs. 1.02; P=0.009). In the IFN arm, higher ferritin ratios at end of induction and at 6 months were not associated with improved outcome (respectively, P=0.66 and 0.86). Concerning CRP ratios, no differences between the treatment groups, neither an association with DMFS, were observed. Administration of IFN in melanoma patients induced increase in ferritin levels but not in CRP levels. Ferritin and CRP ratios have no prognostic value regarding DMFS.