Researchers find increased risk of pancreatic cancer in patients with SIV-1/SIV-comorbid diagnosis

Adults with HIV-1 infection are at higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer because of the co-infection with SIV-1-infected individuals, a UGA study has found. The findings suggest that human immunodeficiency virus infections (HIV) might increase patients’ risk of pancreatic cancer by cutting off small blood supply to the pancreas.

The study, which was led by co-investigators Shannon Knight, an assistant research scientist, and John Mazziotta, dean of the College of Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Pharmacologic Urology Research Fundraiser and USAID’s Mayo Clinic, also found that patients with HIV-1 and SIV-infection had a tenfold increased odds of developing the disease than those without HIV infection.

“This study is the first to show a such a strong relationship of SIV-1-infection with pancreatic cancer,” Mazziotta said. “Pancreatic genetic mutations are relatively common but if the mutation is not recognized and the individual is not treated, pancreatic cancer can become difficult to treat or deadly. This study supports ongoing efforts to screen individuals for SIV-1-associated pancreatic cancer risk.”

Knights, who has a three-year research grant from National Institutes of Health (NIH) to further test the hypothesis that SIV-1/SIV-comorbidity (SIV-1/SIV-COM) translates into an increased risk of pancreatic cancer, and vice versa, suggests that infection may increase pancreatic cancer risk through pancreatic enzymes blocking both HIV and SIV-1 infection. Life-threatening complications associated with SIV-1/SIV-COM include bleeding, blood clots, and organ failure.

The study showed that a significant 75 percent increased risk of pancreatic cancer was associated with SIV-infection (prevalence ≥0.75 percent). The infection was associated with a 43 percent increased risk of pancreatic cancer.

Further, the research team performed surveillance using National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded, random pancreatic cancer samples enrolling an additional 340 patients. One hundred patients had prior documented pancreatic cancer, while the remainder had a history of pancreatic cancer diagnosed by a primary test, and a combination of pancreatic cancer and HIV infection diagnosed using dual-drip-fluorescence digoxin-labeled antigen test.
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Scientists reported that 24 of the doctors analyzed were HIV positive. Most were people of African and Caribbean descent, and 54 percent were African American and 29 percent were Latino. The significance of the results was that African American and Latino children were more likely than Asian-American children to develop pancreatic cancer.