Tumor Mutation Burden and Depression in Lung Cancer: Association With Inflammation

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  • 1 Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York;
  • 2 Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia; and
  • 3 Department of Psychology, Fordham University, Bronx, New York.
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Background: Patients with lung cancer with greater systemic inflammation have higher rates of depression. Tumor mutation burden (TMB) predicts immunotherapy response in patients with lung cancer and is associated with intratumoral inflammation, which may contribute to systemic inflammation and depression. This study evaluated whether higher TMB was associated with increased depression and systemic inflammation in patients with lung cancer. Patients and Methods: Patients with metastatic lung cancers were evaluated for depression severity using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. TMB was measured using the Memorial Sloan Kettering-Integrated Mutation Profiling of Actionable Cancer Targets. Inflammation was evaluated using C-reactive protein (CRP) level and neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (NLR). Results: A total of 96 patients with adequate TMB testing were evaluated. The average number of mutations (TMB) was 10.8 (SD, 10.9). A total of 19% of patients endorsed clinically significant depression symptoms. TMB was significantly correlated with depression severity (r = 0.34; P=.001) and NLR (r = 0.37; P=.002) but not CRP level (r = 0.19; P=.07). TMB was also higher in patients receiving chemotherapy (mean, 12.0) and immunotherapy (mean, 14.4) versus targeted therapy (mean, 4.8). A multivariate model found that TMB (β = 0.30; P=.01) and CRP level (β = 0.31; P=.01) were independently associated with depression; there was no significant interaction effect of TMB × CRP and depression. A similar multivariate model showed no independent effect for NLR and depression (β = 0.16; P=.17) after accounting for TMB. Conclusions: These data provide evidence for biologic depression risk in patients with lung cancer who have high levels of TMB. The underlying mechanism of the association is not clearly related to inflammation but warrants further analysis to broadly elucidate the mechanism of biologically derived depression in cancer.

Submitted August 8, 2019; accepted for publication October 28, 2019.

Author contributions: Study concept and design: All authors. Data collection and assembly: McFarland, Breitbart, Nelson. Data analysis and interpretation: All authors. Manuscript writing: All authors. Approval of final manuscript: All authors.

Disclosures: The authors have disclosed that they have not received any financial consideration from any person or organization to support the preparation, analysis, results, or discussion of this article.

Funding: Dr. Jutagir was supported by NCI grant T32 CA009461.

Correspondence: Daniel C. McFarland, DO, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, 641 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10022. Email: danielcurtismcfarland@gmail.com
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