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Dynamic Changes in the Neutrophil-to-Lymphocyte Ratio Predict the Prognosis of Patients with Hepatocellular Carcinoma Undergoing Transarterial Chemoembolization

Authors Wang H, Lin C, Fan W, Zhang J, Zhang Y, Yao W, Li J

Received 18 January 2020

Accepted for publication 21 April 2020

Published 14 May 2020 Volume 2020:12 Pages 3433—3444


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Seema Singh

Hongyu Wang,1,* Chuyang Lin,2,* Wenzhe Fan,1 Jiang Zhang,3 Yingqiang Zhang,4 Wang Yao,1 Jiaping Li1

1Department of Interventional Oncology, The First Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510080, People’s Republic of China; 2Department of Cancer Prevention Center, Sun Yat-sen University Cancer Center, Guangzhou 510080, People’s Republic of China; 3Department of Clinical Laboratory, The First Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510080, People’s Republic of China; 4Department of Interventional Radiology, The Seventh Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University, Shenzhen 518107, People’s Republic of China

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence: Jiaping Li
Department of Interventional Oncology, The First Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University, No. 58 Zhongshan 2 Road, Guangzhou 510080, People’s Republic of China
Tel +86-20-13352890908
Fax +86-20-87755766

Purpose: To examine the effect of dynamic changes in neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (NLR) on tumor response and overall survival (OS) in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) undergoing transarterial chemoembolization (TACE).
Patients and Methods: Data from 181 patients with HCC were retrospectively collected. White blood cell, neutrophil and lymphocyte counts, and the NLR were obtained 1– 3 days before as well as 3– 6 weeks and 3 months after TACE. Patients were divided into two groups at each time point according to the mean value of NLR, and also divided into continuous decrease, fluctuating increase-decrease (I-D), fluctuating decrease-increase (D-I), and continuous increase groups according to the dynamic changes in the NLR. The dynamic changes in blood counts and NLR were analyzed using repeated-measures ANOVA. The odds ratios (ORs) for tumor response in different NLR groups were examined using a multivariate logistic regression model. Finally, the prognostic value of the dynamic changes in the NLR was examined using Cox regression models.
Results: Continuous decline of white blood cell counts, neutrophil counts and lymphocyte counts were observed at 3– 6 weeks and 3 months after TACE treatment. The NLR increased slightly and then decreased substantially in responders, while it increased slightly and then significantly in non-responders, with a significant interaction effect of Time × Tumor response (P = 0.005). NLR grouping before TACE, 3– 6 weeks and 3 months after TACE was not associated with tumor response, and only 3 months after TACE did, it shows a significant difference in univariate survival analyses (NLR > 2.5 vs NLR ≤ 2.5, hazard ratio [HR] = 2.442, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.545, 3.860). The changes in the NLR were significantly correlated with tumor response and OS. Non-responders for TACE were more common in the continuous NLR increase group (OR = 6.230, 95% CI: 1.848– 21.001) and in the fluctuating D-I group (OR = 5.702, 95% CI: 1.480– 21.957). Multivariate analyses revealed that these two patient groups also showed poorer OS (HR = 2.351, 95% CI: 1.120– 4.605 and HR = 2.320, 95% CI: 1.187– 4.533, respectively).
Conclusion: Dynamic changes in the NLR may be better predictors of tumor response and OS than static NLR values, but more data are needed.

Keywords: hepatocellular carcinoma, prognosis, neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio, transarterial chemoembolization

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