Serum ghrelin and esophageal and gastric cancer in two cohorts in China
Ghrelin is a hormone produced in the oxyntic glands of the stomach. Previous work by our group has suggested that serum ghrelin concentrations are inversely associated with gastric and esophageal cancer risk. We measured ghrelin concentrations in the Linxian General Population Nutrition Intervention Trial (NIT), and the Shanghai Women's Health Study (SWHS). In NIT, we analyzed serum samples from 298 esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) cases, 518 gastric cardia adenocarcinoma (GCA) cases, 258 gastric noncardia adenocarcinoma (GNCA) cases and 770 subcohort controls (case–cohort). In SWHS, we measured ghrelin in plasma samples from 249 GNCA cases and 498 matched controls (nested case–control). Ghrelin was measured using radioimmunoassay. In NIT and SWHS, low ghrelin concentrations were associated with an increased risk of developing GNCA and GCA. The hazard ratio (HR Q1:Q4) for GNCA in NIT was 1.35 (95% CI: 0.89–2.05; p-trend = 0.02); the odds ratio in SWHS was 1.66 (95% CI: 1.02–2.70; p-trend = 0.06). Low ghrelin was associated with a twofold increase of GCA (HR Q1:Q4 = 2.00, 95% CI: 1.45–2.77; p-trend<0.001). In contrast, a lower risk of ESCC (NIT ESCC HR Q1:Q4 = 0.65, 95% CI: 0.45–0.92; p-trend = 0.02) was found in NIT. Low baseline ghrelin concentrations were associated with an increased risk for GNCA and GCA in the NIT and the SWHS. In contrast, low ghrelin concentrations at baseline were associated with a reduced risk of developing ESCC in the NIT. Ghrelin may be an early marker of future cancer risk for developing upper gastrointestinal cancer in regions of high incidence.