An altered expression of the activated leukocyte cell adhesion molecule (ALCAM) is associated with cancer progression in various cancer types. In some cancers ALCAM has a prognostic value or is predictive for the benefit of therapeutic interventions. To date there are no data on the role of ALCAM in cervical cancer available.
In this study, ALCAM expression was analysed by immunohistochemistry (IHC) in tissue samples of 233 patients with cervical cancer, among them 178 with complete follow-up information. In addition, soluble (s-)ALCAM was measured in sera of a subset of the included patients (n = 55) by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).
ALCAM overexpression was detected (immunoreactive score (IRS) 2-12) in 58.4% of the cervical cancer samples. The normal ectocervical or endocervical epithelium showed no ALCAM reactivity. In untreated patients, ALCAM overexpression in tumor tissue tended to be associated with shorter cancer-specific survival (CSS) and disease-free survival (DFS). Patients, whose tumor samples showed ALCAM overexpression receiving a cytotoxic therapy like radiotherapy or chemoradiation, however, had a favourable prognosis compared to those patients, whose cancers showed no or minimal ALCAM staining. This effect was particularly apparent in patients receiving chemoradiation where the CSS was significantly longer in patients with ALCAM-positive tumors (p = 0.038; cumulative incidence rates at 96 months 8%, 95% CI 0%-23%, and 26%, CI 3%-43% in ALCAM-positive and ALCAM-negative cases, respectively).
Median preoperative s-ALCAM concentration in sera from tumor patients was 27.6 ng/ml (range 17.5-55.1 ng/ml, mean 28.9 ng/ml), serum levels did not correlate with intratumoral ALCAM expression.
The data of our retrospective study suggest that the prognostic value of ALCAM expression in cervical carcinoma might be therapy-dependent, and that ALCAM might function as a predictive marker for the response to chemoradiation. This should be confirmed in further, prospective studies.