Hinton T, Karnak D, Tang M, Jiang R, Luo Y, Boonstra P, Sun Y, Nancarrow DJ, Sandford E, Ray P, Maurino C, Matuszak M, Schipper MJ, Green MD, Yanik GA, Tewari M, Naqa IE, Schonewolf CA, Haken RT, Jolly S, Lawrence TS, and Ray D. Improved prediction of radiation pneumonitis by combining biological and radiobiological parameters using a data-driven Bayesian network analysis. Transl Oncol 2022; 21:101428.
Grade 2 and higher radiation pneumonitis (RP2) is a potentially fatal toxicity that limits efficacy of radiation therapy (RT). We wished to identify a combined biomarker signature of circulating miRNAs and cytokines which, along with radiobiological and clinical parameters, may better predict a targetable RP2 pathway. In a prospective clinical trial of response-adapted RT for patients (n = 39) with locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer, we analyzed patients' plasma, collected pre- and during RT, for microRNAs (miRNAs) and cytokines using array and multiplex enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), respectively. Interactions between candidate biomarkers, radiobiological, and clinical parameters were analyzed using data-driven Bayesian network (DD-BN) analysis. We identified alterations in specific miRNAs (miR-532, -99b and -495, let-7c, -451 and -139-3p) correlating with lung toxicity. High levels of soluble tumor necrosis factor alpha receptor 1 (sTNFR1) were detected in a majority of lung cancer patients. However, among RP patients, within 2 weeks of RT initiation, we noted a trend of temporary decline in sTNFR1 (a physiological scavenger of TNFα) and ADAM17 (a shedding protease that cleaves both membrane-bound TNFα and TNFR1) levels. Cytokine signature identified activation of inflammatory pathway. Using DD-BN we combined miRNA and cytokine data along with generalized equivalent uniform dose (gEUD) to identify pathways with better accuracy of predicting RP2 as compared to either miRNA or cytokines alone. This signature suggests that activation of the TNFα-NFκB inflammatory pathway plays a key role in RP which could be specifically ameliorated by etanercept rather than current therapy of non-specific leukotoxic corticosteroids.