Publications by authors named "Evanthia C Wommack"

9 Publications

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Association of epigenetic age acceleration with risk factors, survival, and quality of life in patients with head and neck cancer.

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2021 Apr 18. Epub 2021 Apr 18.

Emory University School of Nursing.

Purpose: Epigenetic age acceleration (EAA) is robustly linked with mortality and morbidity. This study examined risk factors of EAA and its association with overall survival (OS), progression-free survival (PFS), and quality of life (QOL) in patients with head and neck cancer (HNC) receiving radiotherapy.

Methods And Materials: Patients without distant metastasis were enrolled and followed before and end of radiotherapy, and 6-months and 12-months post-radiotherapy. EAA was calculated with DNAmPhenoAge at all four times. Risk factors included demographics, lifestyle, clinical characteristics, treatment-related symptoms, and blood biomarkers. Survival data were collected until August 2020; QOL was measured using Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-HNC.

Results: Increased comorbidity, HPV-unrelated, and severer treatment-related symptoms were associated with higher EAA (p=0.03 to <0.001). A non-linear association (quadratic) between body mass index (BMI) and EAA was observed: decreased BMI (when BMI<35,p=0.04) or increased BMI (when BMI≥35,p=0.01), was linked to higher EAA. Increased EAA (per year) was associated with worse OS (hazard ratio (HR)=1.11,95% CI=[1.03,1.18],p=0.004; HR=1.10,95% CI=[1.01,1.19], p=0.02, for EAA at 6-months and 12-months post-treatment, respectively), PFS (HR=1.10, 95% CI=[1.02,1.19], p=0.02; HR=1.14, 95% CI=[1.06,1.23], p<0.001; HR=1.08,95% CI=[1.02,1.14], p=0.01, for EAA before, end, and 6-months post-radiotherapy, respectively), and QOL over time (β=-0.61,p=0.001). An average of 3.25-3.33 years of age acceleration across time, which was responsible for 33% to 44% higher HRs of OS and PFS, was observed in those who died or developed recurrences compared to those who did not (all p<0.001).

Conclusion: Compared to demographic and lifestyle factors, clinical characteristics were more likely to contribute to faster biological aging in patients with HNC. Acceleration in epigenetic age resulted in more aggressive adverse events including OS and PFS. EAA could be considered as a marker for cancer outcomes, and decelerating aging could improve survival and QOL.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijrobp.2021.04.002DOI Listing
April 2021

Association Among Glucocorticoid Receptor Sensitivity, Fatigue, and Inflammation in Patients With Head and Neck Cancer.

Psychosom Med 2020 06;82(5):508-516

From the School of Nursing (Xiao, Knobf), Yale University, Orange, Connecticut; and School of Nursing (Eldridge, Chico, Bruner), School of Medicine (Beitler, Higgins, Saba, Shin), and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine (Felger, Wommack, Miller), Emory University, Atlanta, Gerogia.

Objective: Fatigued cancer patients often have high peripheral inflammation; however, the biological mechanisms of this association remain unclear. We examined whether decreased sensitivity of immune cells to the anti-inflammatory effects of glucocorticoids may contribute to inflammation and fatigue in head and neck cancer (HNC) patients during treatment.

Methods: HNC patients without distant metastasis and with curative intent (n = 77) were studied 1 week before intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) and 1 month after IMRT. At each time point, fatigue was measured by the Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory-20 along with plasma inflammation markers and glucocorticoid receptor (GR) sensitivity as determined by in vitro dexamethasone suppression of lipopolysaccharide-induced interleukin 6. Linear regression models were used.

Results: In contrast to our hypothesis, GR sensitivity increased during treatment; however, increased fatigue was associated with a lesser increase in GR sensitivity from baseline to 1 month after IMRT (unstandardized estimate = 4.07, p = .02). This effect was more prominent in human papillomavirus-unrelated HNCs (unstandardized estimate = 8.22, p = .002). Lower increases in GR sensitivity were also associated with increased inflammation at 1 month after IMRT as represented by C-reactive protein, interleukin 6, and tumor necrosis factor α. Addition of inflammation markers to models of GR sensitivity predicting fatigue indicated that these inflammation markers were stronger predictors of fatigue than GR sensitivity.

Conclusions: Lower increases in GR sensitivity during HNC treatment were significantly predictive of increased fatigue and inflammation markers. Inflammation markers in turn predicted fatigue above and beyond levels of GR sensitivity. Our findings indicate that HNC patients with cancer-related fatigue may exhibit a decreased capacity for glucocorticoids to regulate inflammatory processes, as evidenced by a lower increase in GR sensitivity. Larger studies are necessary to verify the findings.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/PSY.0000000000000816DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7905992PMC
June 2020

Inflammatory markers are associated with psychomotor slowing in patients with schizophrenia compared to healthy controls.

NPJ Schizophr 2020 Apr 1;6(1). Epub 2020 Apr 1.

Emory University School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Atlanta, GA, USA.

Patients with schizophrenia exhibit psychomotor deficits that are associated with poor functional outcomes. One pathway that may be associated with psychomotor slowing is inflammation. Inflammatory markers have been shown to be elevated in patients with schizophrenia and are associated with psychomotor deficits in both animal and human studies. Forty-three patients with schizophrenia and 29 healthy controls were recruited and underwent a battery of psychomotor tasks. The following immune measures in peripheral blood were assayed: IL-6, IL-1 beta, IL-10, TNF, MCP-1, IL-6sr, IL-1RA, and TNFR2. Generalized linear models were used to determine which immune markers, in addition to their interaction with diagnosis, were associated with performance on the psychomotor tasks. As expected, patients with schizophrenia demonstrated slower performance compared with healthy controls on the finger tapping test (FTT, tested on dominant and non-dominant hands), trail making test (TMT), and symbol coding test (SC). Interactive effects with diagnosis were found for TNF, IL-10, IL-6sr, and TNFR2 for the FTT (dominant), IL-10 and IL-6sr for FTT (non-dominant), TNF and IL-10 for TMT and TNF, IL-10, IL-6sr, TNFR2, and IL-1RA for SC. The results of this study provide evidence that peripheral inflammatory markers contribute to psychomotor slowing in patients with schizophrenia. These data are consistent with a growing literature, demonstrating that inflammation may target the basal ganglia to contribute to psychomotor deficits as is seen in other psychiatric disorders such as depression. These data also indicate that psychomotor speed may be a relevant construct to target in studies of the immune system in schizophrenia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41537-020-0098-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7113262PMC
April 2020

Differential regulation of NF-kB and IRF target genes as they relate to fatigue in patients with head and neck cancer.

Brain Behav Immun 2018 11 11;74:291-295. Epub 2018 Sep 11.

Division of Hematology-Oncology, UCLA AIDS Institute, Molecular Biology Institute, Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Norman Cousins Center, UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA 90095, United States.

Previous studies have linked plasma inflammatory markers to elevated fatigue in patients with head and neck cancer (HNC). To identify the molecular mechanisms underlying this association, we conducted promoter-based bioinformatics analyses to determine the relationship between fatigue and specific gene expression profiles associated with inflammation in human papillomavirus (HPV)-related and -unrelated HNC patients undergoing treatment. Patients with newly diagnosed HNC without distant metastasis were assessed at baseline (pre-radiotherapy) and one-month post-radiotherapy. Fatigue was measured by the Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory. Genome-wide gene expression profiles were collected from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). Promoter-based bioinformatics analyses were employed to identify transcription control pathways underlying transcriptomic correlates of fatigue in the sample as a whole and in HPV-related and HPV-unrelated HNC patients separately. In transcriptome profiling analyses of PBMC from 44 patients, TELiS bioinformatics analyses linked fatigue to increased nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-kB) transcriptional activity and decreased interferon regulatory factor family (IRF) transcription factor activity. Patients with HPV-related HNC showed lower levels of fatigue-related gene expression profile compared to HPV-unrelated HNC. Fatigue in HNC patients undergoing treatment is associated with gene expression profiles consistent with the conserved transcriptional response to adversity (CTRA) characterized by increased proinflammatory and decreased anti-antiviral transcriptional activity. Interestingly, this CTRA response was mitigated in patients with HPV-related HNC and may explain the lower level of fatigue they experience relative to HPV-unrelated HNC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbi.2018.09.013DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6289813PMC
November 2018

What does plasma CRP tell us about peripheral and central inflammation in depression?

Mol Psychiatry 2020 06 12;25(6):1301-1311. Epub 2018 Jun 12.

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, 30322, USA.

Peripheral blood C-reactive protein (CRP) is a biomarker used clinically to measure systemic inflammation and is reproducibly increased in a subset of patients with major depressive disorder (MDD). Furthermore, increased peripheral blood CRP in MDD has been associated with altered reward circuitry and increased brain glutamate in relation with symptoms of anhedonia. Nevertheless, the relationship between peripheral CRP and other peripheral and central markers of inflammation in depressed patients has not been established. Plasma (n = 89) and CSF (n = 73) was collected from medically stable, currently unmedicated adult outpatients with MDD. Associations among plasma and CSF CRP and plasma and CSF inflammatory cytokines (interleukin [IL]-6, tumor necrosis factor [TNF] and IL-1beta) and their soluble receptors/antagonists were examined. Relationships between plasma and CSF inflammatory markers and depressive symptoms including anhedonia and reduced motivation (RM) were also explored. Plasma CRP was correlated with multiple plasma inflammatory markers (all p < 0.05), and a strong correlation was found between plasma and CSF CRP (r = 0.855, p < 0.001). CSF CRP in turn correlated with CSF cytokine receptors/antagonists (all p < 0.05). Principal component analyses revealed clusters of CSF inflammatory markers that were associated with high plasma CRP (>3 mg/L) and correlated with depressive symptom severity. These findings were driven by CSF TNF, which correlated with RM (r = 0.236, p = 0.045), and CSF IL-6 soluble receptor, which correlated with anhedonia (r = 0.301, p = 0.010) in the sample as a whole and particularly females. CRP appears to be a peripheral biomarker that reflects peripheral and central inflammation and seems well-suited for guiding immunotherapies targeting TNF and IL-6 in patients with MDD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41380-018-0096-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6291384PMC
June 2020

Antidepressant treatment resistance is associated with increased inflammatory markers in patients with major depressive disorder.

Psychoneuroendocrinology 2018 09 19;95:43-49. Epub 2018 May 19.

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30322, United States. Electronic address:

Background: One third of patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) fail to respond to currently available antidepressant medications. Inflammation may contribute to treatment non-response through effects on neurotransmitter systems relevant to antidepressant efficacy. In post-hoc analyses, increased concentrations of inflammatory markers prior to treatment predict poor antidepressant response. However, limited data exists on whether depressed patients with multiple failed treatment trials in their current episode of depression exhibit increased inflammation.

Methods: Plasma concentrations of inflammatory markers were measured in unmedicated, medically stable patients with MDD (n = 98) and varying numbers of adequate antidepressant treatment trials in the current depressive episode as measured by the Massachusetts General Hospital Antidepressant Treatment Response Questionnaire. Covariates including age, sex, race, education, body mass index (BMI) and severity of depression were included in statistical models where indicated.

Results: A significant relationship was found between number of failed treatment trials and tumor necrosis factor (TNF), soluble TNF receptor 2 (sTNF-R2) and interleukin (IL)-6 (all p < 0.05 in multivariate analyses). Post hoc pairwise comparisons with correction for multiple testing revealed that patients with 3 or more failed trials in the current episode had significantly higher plasma TNF, sTNF-R2 and IL-6 compared to individuals with 0 or 1 trial (all p < 0.05). High sensitivity c-reactive protein was also associated with a greater number of treatment failures, but only in models with BMI excluded.

Conclusions: Measuring inflammatory markers and targeting inflammation or its downstream mediators may be relevant for depressed patients with multiple failed antidepressant treatment trials in their current depressive episode.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2018.05.026DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6427066PMC
September 2018

Associations among human papillomavirus, inflammation, and fatigue in patients with head and neck cancer.

Cancer 2018 08 9;124(15):3163-3170. Epub 2018 May 9.

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.

Background: Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection has contributed to an increased incidence of squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN). Fatigue is a major side effect of SCCHN and its treatment. However, to the authors' knowledge, the association between HPV and fatigue has not been examined to date, nor is it known whether HPV influences biological mechanisms of fatigue, including inflammation.

Methods: Patients with SCCHN who were without distant metastasis were assessed at baseline (pre-radiotherapy) and 1 month and 3 months postradiotherapy. Fatigue was measured using the Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory. Peripheral inflammation was assessed by plasma C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin 1 receptor antagonist (IL-1ra), soluble tumor necrosis factor receptor 2 (sTNFR2), and IL-6. Mixed effect models were used to examine associations.

Results: A total of 94 patients who were newly diagnosed were enrolled; 53% had HPV-related tumors. Patients with HPV-unrelated tumors had higher fatigue and higher plasma CRP, sTNFR2, and IL-6 over time, especially at baseline and 3 months after intensity-modulated radiotherapy compared with those with HPV-related tumors (all P < .05). However, fatigue and plasma sTNFR2 increased more significantly from baseline to 1 month after radiotherapy in the HPV-related group compared with the HPV-unrelated group (both P < .01). Controlling for significant covariates, HPV status and inflammation were found to be independent predictors of fatigue over time.

Conclusions: HPV status is an important marker of vulnerability to the behavioral and immune consequences of SCCHN and its treatment, providing support for different symptom management strategies. Special emphasis should be placed on addressing marked persistent fatigue in patients with HPV-unrelated tumors, whereas attention should be paid to the large increases in fatigue during treatment among patients with HPV-related tumors. Cancer 2018. © 2018 American Cancer Society.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cncr.31537DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6097898PMC
August 2018

Inflammatory markers are associated with decreased psychomotor speed in patients with major depressive disorder.

Brain Behav Immun 2016 Aug 1;56:281-8. Epub 2016 Apr 1.

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30329, United States; Winship Cancer Institute, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, United States.

Previous data have demonstrated that administration of inflammatory cytokines or their inducers leads to altered basal ganglia function associated with reduced psychomotor speed. Decreased psychomotor speed, referred to clinically as psychomotor retardation, is a cardinal symptom of major depressive disorder (MDD) and has been associated with poor antidepressant treatment response. We therefore examined the association between plasma inflammatory markers and psychomotor speed in ninety-three un-medicated patients with MDD. Psychomotor speed was assessed by a range of neuropsychological tests from purely motor tasks (e.g. movement latency and finger tapping) to those that involved motor activity with increasing cognitive demand and cortical participation (e.g. Trails A and Digit Symbol Substitution Task (DSST)). Linear regression analyses were performed to determine the relationship of inflammatory markers and psychomotor task performance controlling for age, race, sex, education, body mass index, and severity of depression. MDD patients exhibited decreased psychomotor speed on all tasks relative to normative standards. Increased IL-6 was associated with decreased performance on simple and choice movement time tasks, whereas MCP-1 was associated with decreased performance on the finger tapping task and DSST. IL-10 was associated with increased performance on the DSST. In an exploratory principle component analysis including all psychomotor tasks, IL-6 was associated with the psychomotor speed factor. Taken together, the data indicate that a peripheral inflammatory profile including increased IL-6 and MCP-1 is consistently associated with psychomotor speed in MDD. These data are consistent with data demonstrating that inflammation can affect basal ganglia function, and indicate that psychomotor speed may be a viable outcome variable for anti-inflammatory therapies in depression and other neuropsychiatric disorders with increased inflammation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbi.2016.03.025DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4939278PMC
August 2016

Fatigue is associated with inflammation in patients with head and neck cancer before and after intensity-modulated radiation therapy.

Brain Behav Immun 2016 Feb 30;52:145-152. Epub 2015 Oct 30.

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine, Emory University, 1365-B Clifton Road, Atlanta, GA 30322, United States.

Patients with head and neck cancer (HNC) receiving intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) have particularly high rates of fatigue, and pre- and post-radiotherapy fatigue are prognostic factors for pathologic tumor responses and poor survival. Although inflammation has been proposed as one of the potential mechanisms of fatigue in cancer patients, findings have not been consistent, and there is a dearth of longitudinal studies. Accordingly, we conducted a prospective study in 46 HNC patients pre- and one-month post-IMRT. Fatigue was measured by the Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory (MFI)-20 at both time points along with the assessment of peripheral blood inflammatory markers including interleukin (IL)-6, soluble tumor necrosis factor receptor 2, and C-reactive protein (CRP) and gene expression. Generalized estimating equations were used to examine the association between inflammatory markers and fatigue. Gene enrichment analysis using MetaCore software was performed using up-regulated genes that were significantly associated with IMRT and fatigue. Significant associations between fatigue and IL-6 as well as CRP, which were independent of time, were observed. In addition the change in fatigue from pre- to post-IMRT was positively associated with the change in IL-6 and CRP. Analysis of up-regulated gene transcripts as a function of IMRT and fatigue revealed overrepresentation of transcripts related to the defense response and nuclear factor kappa B. In conclusion, our findings support the hypotheses that inflammation is associated with fatigue over time in HNC patients. Future studies on how inflammation contributes to fatigue as well as strategies targeting inflammation to reduce fatigue are warranted.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbi.2015.10.016DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4867228PMC
February 2016