Open Access Open Badges Research article

Neutrophilic airways inflammation in lung cancer: the role of exhaled LTB-4 and IL-8

Giovanna E Carpagnano1*, Grazia P Palladino1, Donato Lacedonia1, Anna Koutelou1, Silvio Orlando2 and Maria P Foschino-Barbaro1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medical and Occupational Sciences, Institute of Respiratory Disease, University of Foggia, Via degli Aviatori 1, Foggia, 71100, Italy

2 Department of Thoracic Surgery, Casa di Cura La Madonnina, viale Pasteur 18, Bari, 70124, Italy

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BMC Cancer 2011, 11:226  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-11-226

Published: 7 June 2011



Recent advances in lung cancer biology presuppose its inflammatory origin. In this regard, LTB-4 and IL-8 are recognized to play a crucial role in neutrophil recruitment into airways during lung cancer.

Notwithstanding the intriguing hypothesis, the exact role of neutrophilic inflammation in tumour biology remains complex and not completely known.

The aim of this study was to give our contribution in this field by investigating LTB-4 and IL-8 in the breath condensate of NSCLC patients and verifying their role in cancer development and progression.


We enrolled 50 NSCLC patients and 35 controls. LTB-4 and IL-8 concentrations were measured in the breath condensate and the blood of all the subjects under study using EIA kits. Thirty NSCLC patients and ten controls underwent induced sputum collection and analysis.


LTB-4 and IL-8 resulted higher in breath condensate and the blood of NSCLC patients compared to controls. Significantly higher concentrations were found as the cancer stages progressed. A positive correlation was observed between exhaled IL-8 and LTB-4 and the percentage of neutrophils in the induced sputum.


The high concentrations of exhaled LTB-4 and IL-8 showed the presence of a neutrophilic inflammation in the airways of NSCLC patients and gave a further support to the inflammatory signalling in lung cancer. These exhaled proteins could represent a suitable non-invasive marker in the diagnosis and monitoring of lung cancer.

lung cancer; LTB-4; IL-8; non-invasive methods; breath cancer; airways inflammation; neutrophils