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Journal of Immunology Research
Volume 2018, Article ID 4874193, 5 pages
Research Article

The Relationship between a New Biomarker of Vagal Neuroimmunomodulation and Survival in Two Fatal Cancers

1Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Center for Neuroscience, Brussels, Belgium
2Scalab, Université Lille 3, Lille, France
3Faculty of Health Care, University College Odisee, Aalst, Belgium
4Mental Health and Wellbeing Research Group, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Ixelles, Belgium
5Oncological Center, UZ Brussels, Jette, Belgium
6Department of Gastroenterology, Erasme University Hospital, Brussels, Belgium

Correspondence should be addressed to Y. Gidron; rf.3ellil-vinu@nordig.iroy

Received 16 December 2017; Accepted 15 April 2018; Published 8 May 2018

Academic Editor: Diana Velluto

Copyright © 2018 Y. Gidron et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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) (). Conclusions. The NIM index, reflecting vagal modulation of inflammation, may be a new independent prognostic biomarker in fatal cancers.