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Mediators of Inflammation
Volume 2015, Article ID 820934, 8 pages
Review Article

Potential Biomarkers of Fat Loss as a Feature of Cancer Cachexia

Division of Human Nutrition, Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, University of Alberta, 4-002 Li Ka Shing Centre for Health Research Innovation, Edmonton, AB, Canada T6G 2E1

Received 15 January 2015; Revised 17 April 2015; Accepted 18 April 2015

Academic Editor: Alessandro Laviano

Copyright © 2015 Maryam Ebadi and Vera C. Mazurak. 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.


Fat loss is associated with shorter survival and reduced quality of life in cancer patients. Effective intervention for fat loss in cachexia requires identification of the condition using prognostic biomarkers for early detection and prevention of further depletion. No biomarkers of fat mass alterations have been defined for application to the neoplastic state. Several inflammatory cytokines have been implicated in mediating fat loss associated with cachexia; however, plasma levels may not relate to adipose atrophy. Zinc-α2-glycoprotein may be a local catabolic mediator within adipose tissue rather than serving as a plasma biomarker of fat loss. Plasma glycerol and leptin associate with adipose tissue atrophy and mass, respectively; however, no study has evaluated their potential as a prognostic biomarker of cachexia-associated fat loss. This review confirms the need for further studies to identify valid prognostic biomarkers to identify loss of fat based on changes in plasma levels of biomarkers.