Genetic link to PCa risk in African-Americans found

September 12, 2012

Prostate cancer in African-American men appears to be associated with specific changes in the IL-16 gene, according to researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine.

Prostate cancer in African-American men appears to be associated with specific changes in the IL-16 gene, according to researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine.

The researchers say their study, which was published online in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention (Aug. 24, 2012), establishes the association of IL-16 with prostate cancer in men of both African and European descent.

"This provides us with a new potential biomarker for prostate cancer," said principal investigator Rick Kittles, PhD.

Dr. Kittles and his colleagues used imputation to see new patterns of association and identify new places in the gene to look for polymorphisms. They found changes elsewhere in the IL-16 gene that were associated with prostate cancer and that were unique to African-Americans.

Although the effect of the particular changes to the gene appear to be different in men of African versus European descent, it is likely that several of the polymorphisms in the gene alter the function of the IL-16 protein.

"This confirms the importance of IL-16 in prostate cancer and leads us in a new direction," Dr. Kittles said. "Very little research has been done on IL-16, so not much is known about it. We now need to explore the functional role of IL-16 to understand the role it is playing in prostate cancer."

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