Cytokine response following transthoracic and transhiatal esophagectomy in patients with esophageal cancer
Curative esophageal resection is usually performed using either a transthoracic (TT) or transhiatal (TH) approach. Forty patients with esophageal squamous cell carcinoma who underwent esophagectomies (24 TT and 16 TH), 12 patients who underwent surgery for gastric cancer, and 16 healthy individuals were enrolled in this study. Blood samples were taken from the patients, pre- and post-surgery. The levels of synthesis of T-helper 1 and 2 cytokines were assessed in vitro in the presence of mitogen. Our initial data indicated that at admission, 24 h before surgery, blood cells from both groups of esophageal cancer patients produced significantly lower levels of the Th1 cytokines, IFN-gamma and IL-2 than those from cells of healthy donors. Cells collected from gastric cancer patients prior to surgery produced intermediate levels of IFN-gamma and IL-2: significantly lower than healthy donors, and slightly more (non-significant) than esophageal cancer patients. These results contrast with those for the production of Th2 cytokines prior to surgery, which did not differ significantly between any groups: either the esophageal or gastric cancer patients, or healthy donors. Th1 and Th2 cytokine production was then studied using blood cells collected seven days after surgery. Cells from both groups of esophageal cancer patients, undergoing either TT or TH surgery, produced significantly lower levels of the Th1 cytokines, IFN-gamma and IL-2 than those from cells of gastric cancer patients who had undergone surgery. Postoperative and preoperative production was compared. For patients who had undergone TT esophageal resection, we observed that the post-operative production of IL-2, IL-5 and IL-13 was significantly lower than the pre- operative production of those cytokines. Such reduced post-operative compared to pre- operative production was only significant in patients who had undergone TT esophagectomy. A similar, but non-significant trend was observed in patients who had undergone either TH esophagectomy, or gastrectomy. The results indicate that digestive tract cancer patients, both esophageal and gastric, have (prior to surgery), a significantly reduced, basal, mitogen-induced production of Th1 but not of Th2 cytokine. Post-operatively, a significantly reduced production of Th1 and Th2 cytokines, except for IFN-gamma, was observed only in patients who had undergone surgical esophageal resection using the TT method.