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Higher Serum Cathepsin S levels are Associated with Increased Mortality Risk
Posted on: September 5, 2011

Cathepsin S, also known as CTSS, is a protein, which in humans is encoded by the CTSS gene. The protein encoded by this gene, a member of the peptidase C1 family, is a lysosomal cysteine protease that may participate in the degradation of antigenic proteins to peptides for presentation on MHC class II molecules. The encoded protein can function as an elastase over a broad pH range in alveolar macrophages. Transcript variants utilizing alternative polyadenylation signals exist for this gene.

Cathepsin S has been shown to be a significant prognostic factor for patients with type IV astrocytomas (glioblastoma multiforme) and its inhibition has shown improvement in survival time by mean average 5 months. This is because the cysteine enzyme can no longer act together with other proteases to break up the brain extracellular matrix.

Experimental data suggest that cathepsin S, is involved in the complex pathways leading to cardiovascular disease and cancer. However, prospective data concerning a potential association between circulating cathepsin S levels and mortality are lacking.

Scientists investigated associations between circulating cathepsin S levels and mortality in 2 independent cohorts of elderly men and women. The trial was performed on 2 community-based cohorts, the Uppsala Longitudinal Study of Adult Men (ULSAM; n = 1009; mean age: 71 years; baseline period: 1991-1995; median follow-up: 12.6 years; end of follow-up: 2006) and the Prospective Investigation of the Vasculature in Uppsala Seniors (PIVUS; n = 987; 50% women; mean age: 70 years; baseline period: 2001-2004; median follow-up: 7.9 years; end of follow-up: 2010). Serum samples were used to measure cathepsin S.

The results of this study show that during follow-up, 413 participants died in the ULSAM cohort (incidence rate: 3.59/100 person-years at risk) and 100 participants died in the PIVUS cohort (incidence rate: 1.32/100 person-years at risk). In multivariable Cox regression models adjusted for age, systolic blood pressure, diabetes, smoking status, body mass index, total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, antihypertensive treatment, lipid-lowering treatment, and history of cardiovascular disease, higher serum cathepsin S was associated with an increased risk for mortality (ULSAM cohort: hazard ratio [HR] for 1-unit increase of cathepsin S, 1.04 [95% CI, 1.01-1.06], P = .009; PIVUS cohort: HR for 1-unit increase of cathepsin S, 1.03 [95% CI, 1.00-1.07], P = .04). In the ULSAM cohort, serum cathepsin S also was associated with cardiovascular mortality (131 deaths; HR for quintile 5 vs quintiles 1-4, 1.62 [95% CI, 1.11-2.37]; P = .01) and cancer mortality (148 deaths; HR for 1-unit increase of cathepsin S, 1.05 [95% CI, 1.01-1.10]; P = .01).

According to the data obtained, scientists conclude that among elderly individuals in 2 independent cohorts, higher serum cathepsin S levels were associated with increased mortality risk. Additional research is needed to delineate the role of cathepsin S and whether its measurement might have clinical utility.

Source: Jobs E, Ingelsson E, Risérus U, Nerpin E, Jobs M, Sundström J, Basu S, Larsson A, Lind L, Arnlöv J.; Association Between Serum Cathepsin S and Mortality in Older Adults.; JAMA. 2011 Aug 29. [Epub ahead of print]
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