The acute phase reaction is a systemic response to acute or chronic inflammation. The serum level of C-reactive protein (CRP) is the only acute phase biomarker widely used in routine clinical practice, including its uses for prognostics and therapy monitoring in cancer patients. Although Interleukin 6 (IL6) is a main trigger of the acute phase reactions, a series of acute phase reactants can contribute (e.g., other members in IL6 family or IL1 subfamily, and tumor necrosis factor α). However, the experience from patients receiving intensive chemotherapy for hematological malignancies has shown that, besides CRP, other biomarkers (e.g., cytokines, soluble cytokine receptors, soluble adhesion molecules) also have altered systemic levels as a part of the acute phase reaction in these immunocompromised patients. Furthermore, CRP and white blood cell counts can serve as a dual prognostic predictor in solid tumors and hematological malignancies. Recent studies also suggest that biomarker profiles as well as alternative inflammatory mediators should be further developed to optimize the predictive utility in cancer patients. Finally, the experience from allogeneic stem cell transplantation suggests that selected acute phase reactants together with specific markers of organ damages are useful for predicting or diagnosing graft versus host disease. Acute phase proteins may also be useful to identify patients (at risk of) developing severe immune-mediated toxicity after anticancer immunotherapy. To conclude, future studies of acute phase predictors in human malignancies should not only investigate the conventional inflammatory mediators (e.g., CRP, white blood cell counts) but also combinations of novel inflammatory parameters with specific markers of organ damages.
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