The relationship between a new biomarker of vagal neuroimmunomodulation and survival in two fatal cancers

Y. Gidron, M. De Couck, D. Schallier, J. De Greve, J. L. Van Laethem, R. Maréchal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. The vagus nerve may slow tumor progression because it inhibits inflammation. This study examined the relationship between a new vagal neuroimmunomodulation (NIM) index and survival in fatal cancers. Method. We retroactively derived markers of vagal nerve activity indexed by heart rate variability (HRV), specifically the root mean square of successive differences (RMSSD), from patients’ electrocardiograms near diagnosis. The NIM index was the ratio of RMSSD to C-reactive protein levels (RMSSD/CRP). Sample 1 included 202 Belgian patients with advanced pancreatic cancer (PC), while sample 2 included 71 Belgian patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In both samples, we examined the overall survival, while in sample 2, we additionally examined the survival time in deceased patients. Results. In PC patients, in a multivariate Cox regression controlling for confounders, the NIM index had a protective relative risk (RR) of 0.68 and 95% confidence interval (95% CI) of 0.51–0.92. In NSCLC patients, the NIM index also had a protective RR of 0.53 and 95% CI of 0.32–0.88. Finally, in NSCLC, patients with a higher NIM index survived more days (475.2) than those with lower NIM (285.1) (p < 0 05). Conclusions. The NIM index, reflecting vagal modulation of inflammation, may be a new independent prognostic biomarker in fatal cancers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4874193
JournalJournal of Immunology Research
StatePublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2018 Y. Gidron et al.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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