Insulin-like growth factor-I, interleukin-1 α and β in pancreatic cancer: role in tumor invasiveness and associated diabetes

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We evaluated levels of insulin-like growth factor-I and interleukin-1 α and β in patients with pancreatic cancer; the role of these substances in tumor spread and in hyperglycemia was also investigated. Thirty pancreatic cancer patients (21 with hyperglycemia) were compared with others with diseases causing hyperglycemia [liver cirrhosis (14 cases, 12 with hyperglycemia), chronic pancreatitis (20 cases, 12 with hyperglycemia), type I diabetes mellitus (13 cases, all hyperglycemic)]. Insulin-like growth factor-I was significantly reduced in patients with liver cirrhosis, probably due to a reduced hepatic capacity for synthesis. It was increased in 6 of 30 pancreatic cancer patients; in these subjects it was correlated with alanine aminotransferase and C-peptide, but not with tumor diameter or the presence of metastases. Interleukin-1α and β were both elevated in pancreatic cancer patients. The former was high, while the latter was low when liver metastases were present. Neither was related to glucose or C-peptide levels. In summary, insulin-like growth factor-I levels are increased in some pancreatic cancer patients but this does not seem to favor tumor spread; however IGF-I could be involved influencing glucose homeostasis. Interleukin-1 α increased, while interleukin-1β decreased in pancreatic cancer patients with metastases, suggesting a different involvement of these two substances in pancreatic cancer spread.