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1.  Ranking prognosis markers in cancer genomic studies 
Briefings in Bioinformatics  2010;12(1):33-40.
In cancer research, high-throughput genomic studies have been extensively conducted, searching for markers associated with cancer diagnosis, prognosis and variation in response to treatment. In this article, we analyze cancer prognosis studies and investigate ranking markers based on their marginal prognosis power. To avoid ambiguity, we focus on microarray gene expression studies where genes are the markers, but note that the methodology and results are applicable to other high-throughput studies. The objectives of this study are 2-fold. First, we investigate ranking markers under three commonly adopted semiparametric models, namely the Cox, accelerated failure time and additive risk models. Data analysis shows that the ranking may vary significantly under different models. Second, we describe a nonparametric concordance measure, which has roots in the time-dependent ROC (receiver operating characteristic) framework and relies on much weaker assumptions than the semiparametric models. In simulation, it is shown that ranking using the concordance measure is not sensitive to model specification whereas ranking under the semiparametric models is. In data analysis, the concordance measure generates rankings significantly different from those under the semiparametric models.
doi:10.1093/bib/bbq069
PMCID: PMC3030811  PMID: 21087949
cancer prognosis markers; semiparametric survival analysis; concordance measure
2.  A Novel Model to Combine Clinical and Pathway-Based Transcriptomic Information for the Prognosis Prediction of Breast Cancer 
PLoS Computational Biology  2014;10(9):e1003851.
Breast cancer is the most common malignancy in women worldwide. With the increasing awareness of heterogeneity in breast cancers, better prediction of breast cancer prognosis is much needed for more personalized treatment and disease management. Towards this goal, we have developed a novel computational model for breast cancer prognosis by combining the Pathway Deregulation Score (PDS) based pathifier algorithm, Cox regression and L1-LASSO penalization method. We trained the model on a set of 236 patients with gene expression data and clinical information, and validated the performance on three diversified testing data sets of 606 patients. To evaluate the performance of the model, we conducted survival analysis of the dichotomized groups, and compared the areas under the curve based on the binary classification. The resulting prognosis genomic model is composed of fifteen pathways (e.g. P53 pathway) that had previously reported cancer relevance, and it successfully differentiated relapse in the training set (log rank p-value = 6.25e-12) and three testing data sets (log rank p-value<0.0005). Moreover, the pathway-based genomic models consistently performed better than gene-based models on all four data sets. We also find strong evidence that combining genomic information with clinical information improved the p-values of prognosis prediction by at least three orders of magnitude in comparison to using either genomic or clinical information alone. In summary, we propose a novel prognosis model that harnesses the pathway-based dysregulation as well as valuable clinical information. The selected pathways in our prognosis model are promising targets for therapeutic intervention.
Author Summary
With the increasing awareness of heterogeneity in breast cancers, better prediction of breast cancer prognosis is much needed early on for more personalized treatment and management. Towards this goal we propose in this study a novel pathway-based prognosis prediction model, which emphasizes on individualized pathway-based risk measurement using the pathway dysregulation score (PDS). In combination with the L1-LASSO penalized feature selection and the COX-Proportional Hazards regression model, we have identified fifteen cancer relevant pathways using the pathway-based genomic model that successfully differentiated the relapse in the training set as well as three diversified test sets. Moreover, given the debate whether higher-order representative features, such as GO sets, pathways and network modules are superior to the gene-level features in the genomic models, we demonstrate that pathway-based genomic models consistently performed better than gene-based models in all four data sets. Last but not least, we show strong evidence that models that combine genomic information with clinical information improves the prognosis prediction significantly, in comparison to models that use either genomic or clinical information alone.
doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003851
PMCID: PMC4168973  PMID: 25233347
3.  Incorporating Network Structure in Integrative Analysis of Cancer Prognosis Data 
Genetic epidemiology  2012;37(2):173-183.
In high-throughput cancer genomic studies, markers identified from the analysis of single datasets may have unsatisfactory properties because of low sample sizes. Integrative analysis pools and analyzes raw data from multiple studies, and can effectively increase sample size and lead to improved marker identification results. In this study, we consider the integrative analysis of multiple high-throughput cancer prognosis studies. In the existing integrative analysis studies, the interplay among genes, which can be described using the network structure, has not been effectively accounted for. In network analysis, tightly-connected nodes (genes) are more likely to have related biological functions and similar regression coefficients. The goal of this study is to develop an analysis approach that can incorporate the gene network structure in integrative analysis. To this end, we adopt an AFT (accelerated failure time) model to describe survival. A weighted least squares approach, which has low computational cost, is adopted for estimation. For marker selection, we propose a new penalization approach. The proposed penalty is composed of two parts. The first part is a group MCP penalty, and conducts gene selection. The second part is a Laplacian penalty, and smoothes the differences of coefficients for tightly-connected genes. A group coordinate descent approach is developed to compute the proposed estimate. Simulation study shows satisfactory performance of the proposed approach when there exist moderate to strong correlations among genes. We analyze three lung cancer prognosis datasets, and demonstrate that incorporating the network structure can lead to the identification of important genes and improved prediction performance.
doi:10.1002/gepi.21697
PMCID: PMC3909475  PMID: 23161517
Integrative analysis; Cancer prognosis; Gene network; Penalized selection; Laplacian shrinkage
4.  Sparse Group Penalized Integrative Analysis of Multiple Cancer Prognosis Datasets 
Genetics research  2013;95(0):68-77.
SUMMARY
In cancer research, high-throughput profiling studies have been extensively conducted, searching for markers associated with prognosis. Because of the “large d, small n” characteristic, results generated from the analysis of a single dataset can be unsatisfactory. Recent studies have shown that integrative analysis, which simultaneously analyzes multiple datasets, can be more effective than single-dataset analysis and classic meta-analysis. In most of existing integrative analysis, the homogeneity model has been assumed, which postulates that different datasets share the same set of markers. Several approaches have been designed to reinforce this assumption. In practice, different datasets may differ in terms of patient selection criteria, profiling techniques, and many other aspects. Such differences may make the homogeneity model too restricted. In this study, we assume the heterogeneity model, under which different datasets are allowed to have different sets of markers. With multiple cancer prognosis datasets, we adopt the AFT (accelerated failure time) model to describe survival. This model may have the lowest computational cost among popular semiparametric survival models. For marker selection, we adopt a sparse group MCP (minimax concave penalty) approach. This approach has an intuitive formulation and can be computed using an effective group coordinate descent algorithm. Simulation study shows that it outperforms the existing approaches under both the homogeneity and heterogeneity models. Data analysis further demonstrates the merit of heterogeneity model and proposed approach.
doi:10.1017/S0016672313000086
PMCID: PMC4090387  PMID: 23938111
Integrative analysis; Cancer prognosis; Heterogeneity model; Penalization
5.  Identification of Breast Cancer Prognosis Markers using Integrative Sparse Boosting 
Summary
Objectives
In breast cancer research, it is important to identify genomic markers associated with prognosis. Multiple microarray gene expression profiling studies have been conducted, searching for prognosis markers. Genomic markers identified from the analysis of single datasets often suffer a lack of reproducibility because of small sample sizes. Integrative analysis of data from multiple independent studies has a larger sample size and may provide a cost-effective solution.
Methods
We collect four breast cancer prognosis studies with gene expression measurements. An accelerated failure time (AFT) model with an unknown error distribution is adopted to describe survival. An integrative sparse boosting approach is employed for marker selection. The proposed model and boosting approach can effectively accommodate heterogeneity across multiple studies and identify genes with consistent effects.
Results
Simulation study shows that the proposed approach outperforms alternatives including meta-analysis and intensity approaches by identifying the majority or all of the true positives, while having a low false positive rate. In the analysis of breast cancer data, 44 genes are identified as associated with prognosis. Many of the identified genes have been previously suggested as associated with tumorigenesis and cancer prognosis. The identified genes and corresponding predicted risk scores differ from those using alternative approaches. Monte Carlo-based prediction evaluation suggests that the proposed approach has the best prediction performance.
Conclusions
Integrative analysis may provide an effective way of identifying breast cancer prognosis markers. Markers identified using the integrative sparse boosting analysis have sound biological implications and satisfactory prediction performance.
doi:10.3414/ME11-02-0019
PMCID: PMC3598607  PMID: 22344268
Breast cancer prognosis; Gene Expression; Integrative analysis; Sparse boosting
6.  Predicting Survival within the Lung Cancer Histopathological Hierarchy Using a Multi-Scale Genomic Model of Development 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(7):e232.
Background
The histopathologic heterogeneity of lung cancer remains a significant confounding factor in its diagnosis and prognosis—spurring numerous recent efforts to find a molecular classification of the disease that has clinical relevance.
Methods and Findings
Molecular profiles of tumors from 186 patients representing four different lung cancer subtypes (and 17 normal lung tissue samples) were compared with a mouse lung development model using principal component analysis in both temporal and genomic domains. An algorithm for the classification of lung cancers using a multi-scale developmental framework was developed. Kaplan–Meier survival analysis was conducted for lung adenocarcinoma patient subgroups identified via their developmental association. We found multi-scale genomic similarities between four human lung cancer subtypes and the developing mouse lung that are prognostically meaningful. Significant association was observed between the localization of human lung cancer cases along the principal mouse lung development trajectory and the corresponding patient survival rate at three distinct levels of classical histopathologic resolution: among different lung cancer subtypes, among patients within the adenocarcinoma subtype, and within the stage I adenocarcinoma subclass. The earlier the genomic association between a human tumor profile and the mouse lung development sequence, the poorer the patient's prognosis. Furthermore, decomposing this principal lung development trajectory identified a gene set that was significantly enriched for pyrimidine metabolism and cell-adhesion functions specific to lung development and oncogenesis.
Conclusions
From a multi-scale disease modeling perspective, the molecular dynamics of murine lung development provide an effective framework that is not only data driven but also informed by the biology of development for elucidating the mechanisms of human lung cancer biology and its clinical outcome.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Lung cancer causes the most deaths from cancer worldwide—around a quarter of all cancer deaths—and the number of deaths is rising each year. There are a number of different types of the disease, whose names come from early descriptions of the cancer cells when seen under the microscope: carcinoid, small cell, and non–small cell, which make up 2%, 13%, and 86% of lung cancers, respectively. To make things more complicated, each of these cancer types can be subdivided further. It is important to distinguish the different types of cancer because they differ in their rates of growth and how they respond to treatment; for example, small cell lung cancer is the most rapidly progressing type of lung cancer. But although these current classifications of cancers are useful, researchers believe that if the underlying molecular changes in these cancers could be discovered then a more accurate way of classifying cancers, and hence predicting outcome and response to treatment, might be possible.
Why Was This Study Done?
Previous work has suggested that some cancers come from very immature cells, that is, cells that are present in the early stages of an animal's development from an embryo in the womb to an adult animal. Many animals have been closely studied so as to understand how they develop; the best studied model that is also relevant to human disease is the mouse, and researchers have previously studied lung development in mice in detail. This group of researchers wanted to see if there was any relation between the activity (known as expression) of mouse genes during the development of the lung and the expression of genes in human lung cancers, particularly whether they could use gene expression to try to predict the outcome of lung cancer in patients.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
They compared the gene expression in lung cancer samples from 186 patients with four different types of lung cancer (and in 17 normal lung tissue samples) to the gene expression found in normal mice during development. They found similarities between expression patterns in the lung cancer subtypes and the developing mouse lung, and that these similarities explain some of the different outcomes for the patients. In general, they found that when the gene expression in the human cancer was similar to that of very immature mouse lung cells, patients had a poor prognosis. When the gene expression in the human cancer was more similar to mature mouse lung cells, the prognosis was better. However, the researchers found that carcinoid tumors had rather different expression profiles compared to the other tumors.
  The researchers were also able to discover some specific gene types that seemed to have particularly strong associations between mouse development and the human cancers. Two of these gene types were ones that are involved in building and breaking down DNA itself, and ones involved in how cells stick together. This latter group of genes is thought to be involved in how cancers spread.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These results provide a new way of thinking about how to classify lung cancers, and also point to a few groups of genes that may be particularly important in the development of the tumor. However, before these results are used in any clinical assessment, further work will need to be done to work out whether they are true for other groups of patients.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030232.
•  MedlinePlus has information from the United States National Library of Medicine and other government agencies and health-related organizations [MedlinePlus]
•  National Institute on Aging is also a good place to start looking for information [National Institute for Aging]
•  [The National Cancer Institute] and Lung Cancer Online [ Lung Cancer Online] have a wide range of information on lung cancer
Comparison of gene expression patterns in patients with lung cancer and in mouse lung development showed that those tumors associated with earlier mouse lung development had a poorer prognosis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030232
PMCID: PMC1483910  PMID: 16800721
7.  Gene Expression Classification of Colon Cancer into Molecular Subtypes: Characterization, Validation, and Prognostic Value 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(5):e1001453.
Background
Colon cancer (CC) pathological staging fails to accurately predict recurrence, and to date, no gene expression signature has proven reliable for prognosis stratification in clinical practice, perhaps because CC is a heterogeneous disease. The aim of this study was to establish a comprehensive molecular classification of CC based on mRNA expression profile analyses.
Methods and Findings
Fresh-frozen primary tumor samples from a large multicenter cohort of 750 patients with stage I to IV CC who underwent surgery between 1987 and 2007 in seven centers were characterized for common DNA alterations, including BRAF, KRAS, and TP53 mutations, CpG island methylator phenotype, mismatch repair status, and chromosomal instability status, and were screened with whole genome and transcriptome arrays. 566 samples fulfilled RNA quality requirements. Unsupervised consensus hierarchical clustering applied to gene expression data from a discovery subset of 443 CC samples identified six molecular subtypes. These subtypes were associated with distinct clinicopathological characteristics, molecular alterations, specific enrichments of supervised gene expression signatures (stem cell phenotype–like, normal-like, serrated CC phenotype–like), and deregulated signaling pathways. Based on their main biological characteristics, we distinguished a deficient mismatch repair subtype, a KRAS mutant subtype, a cancer stem cell subtype, and three chromosomal instability subtypes, including one associated with down-regulated immune pathways, one with up-regulation of the Wnt pathway, and one displaying a normal-like gene expression profile. The classification was validated in the remaining 123 samples plus an independent set of 1,058 CC samples, including eight public datasets. Furthermore, prognosis was analyzed in the subset of stage II–III CC samples. The subtypes C4 and C6, but not the subtypes C1, C2, C3, and C5, were independently associated with shorter relapse-free survival, even after adjusting for age, sex, stage, and the emerging prognostic classifier Oncotype DX Colon Cancer Assay recurrence score (hazard ratio 1.5, 95% CI 1.1–2.1, p = 0.0097). However, a limitation of this study is that information on tumor grade and number of nodes examined was not available.
Conclusions
We describe the first, to our knowledge, robust transcriptome-based classification of CC that improves the current disease stratification based on clinicopathological variables and common DNA markers. The biological relevance of these subtypes is illustrated by significant differences in prognosis. This analysis provides possibilities for improving prognostic models and therapeutic strategies. In conclusion, we report a new classification of CC into six molecular subtypes that arise through distinct biological pathways.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Cancer of the large bowel (colorectal cancer) is the third most common cancer in men and the second most common cancer in women worldwide. Despite recent advances in the screening, diagnosis, and treatment of colorectal cancer, an estimated 608,000 people die every year from this form of cancer—8% of all cancer deaths. The prognosis and treatment options for colorectal cancer depend on five pathological stages (0–IV), each of which has a different treatment option and five year survival rate, so it is important that the stage is correctly identified. Unfortunately, pathological staging fails to accurately predict recurrence (relapse) in patients undergoing surgery for localized colorectal cancer, which is a concern, as 10%–20% of patients with stage II and 30%–40% of those with stage III colorectal cancer develop recurrence.
Why Was This Study Done?
Previous studies have investigated whether there are any possible gene expression profiles (identified through microarray techniques) that can help predict prognosis of colorectal cancer, but so far, there have been no firm conclusions that can aid clinical practice. In this study, the researchers used genetic information from a French multicenter study to identify a standard, reproducible molecular classification based on gene expression analysis of colorectal cancer. The authors also assessed whether there were any associations between the identified molecular subtypes and clinical and pathological factors, common DNA alterations, and prognosis.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used genetic information from a cohort of 750 patients with stage I to IV colorectal cancer who underwent surgery between 1987 and 2007 in seven centers in France. The researchers identified relevant clinical and pathological staging information for each patient from the medical records and calculated recurrence-free survival (the time from surgery to the first recurrence) for patients with stage II or III disease. In the genetic analysis, 566 tumor samples were suitable—443 were used in a discovery set, to create the classification, and the remainder were used in a validation set, to test the classification. The researchers also used information from eight public datasets to validate their findings.
Using these methods, the researchers classified the colon cancer samples into six molecular subtypes (based on gene expression data) and, on further analysis and validation, were able to distinguish the main biological characteristics and deregulated pathways associated with each subtype. Importantly, the researchers found that that these six subtypes were associated with distinct clinical and pathological characteristics, molecular alterations, specific gene expression signatures, and deregulated signaling pathways. In the prognostic analysis based on recurrence-free survival, the researchers found that patients whose tumors were classified in one of two clusters (C4 and C6) had poorer recurrence-free survival than the other patients.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that it is possible to classify colorectal cancer into six robust molecular subtypes that might help identify new prognostic subgroups and could provide a basis for developing robust prognostic genetic signatures for stage II and III colorectal cancer and for identifying specific markers for the different subtypes that might be targets for future drug development. However, as this study was retrospective and did not include some known predictors of colorectal cancer prognosis, such as tumor grade and number of nodes examined, the significance and robustness of the prognostic classification requires further confirmation with large prospective patient cohorts.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001453.
The American Cancer Society provides information about colorectal cancer and also about how colorectal cancer is staged
The US National Cancer Institute also provides information on colon and rectal cancer and colon cancer stages
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001453
PMCID: PMC3660251  PMID: 23700391
8.  On Model Specification and Selection of the Cox Proportional Hazards Model* 
Statistics in medicine  2013;32(26):4609-4623.
Prognosis plays a pivotal role in patient management and trial design. A useful prognostic model should correctly identify important risk factors and estimate their effects. In this article, we discuss several challenges in selecting prognostic factors and estimating their effects using the Cox proportional hazards model. Although a flexible semiparametric form, the Cox’s model is not entirely exempt from model misspecification. To minimize possible misspecification, instead of imposing traditional linear assumption, flexible modeling techniques have been proposed to accommodate the nonlinear effect. We first review several existing nonparametric estimation and selection procedures and then present a numerical study to compare the performance between parametric and nonparametric procedures. We demonstrate the impact of model misspecification on variable selection and model prediction using a simulation study and a example from a phase III trial in prostate cancer.
doi:10.1002/sim.5876
PMCID: PMC3795916  PMID: 23784939
Cox’s Model; Model Selection; LASSO; Smoothing Splines; COSSO
9.  Identification of Breast Cancer Prognosis Markers via Integrative Analysis 
Summary
In breast cancer research, it is of great interest to identify genomic markers associated with prognosis. Multiple gene profiling studies have been conducted for such a purpose. Genomic markers identified from the analysis of single datasets often do not have satisfactory reproducibility. Among the multiple possible reasons, the most important one is the small sample sizes of individual studies. A cost-effective solution is to pool data from multiple comparable studies and conduct integrative analysis. In this study, we collect four breast cancer prognosis studies with gene expression measurements. We describe the relationship between prognosis and gene expressions using the accelerated failure time (AFT) models. We adopt a 2-norm group bridge penalization approach for marker identification. This integrative analysis approach can effectively identify markers with consistent effects across multiple datasets and naturally accommodate the heterogeneity among studies. Statistical and simulation studies demonstrate satisfactory performance of this approach. Breast cancer prognosis markers identified using this approach have sound biological implications and satisfactory prediction performance.
doi:10.1016/j.csda.2012.02.017
PMCID: PMC3389801  PMID: 22773869
Breast cancer prognosis; Gene expression; Marker identification; Integrative analysis; 2-norm group bridge
10.  Integrative Analysis of Cancer Prognosis Data with Multiple Subtypes Using Regularized Gradient Descent 
Genetic epidemiology  2012;10.1002/gepi.21669.
In cancer research, high-throughput profiling studies have been extensively conducted, searching for genes/SNPs associated with prognosis. Despite seemingly significant differences, different subtypes of the same cancer (or different types of cancers) may share common susceptibility genes. In this study, we analyze prognosis data on multiple subtypes of the same cancer, but note that the proposed approach is directly applicable to the analysis of data on multiple types of cancers. We describe the genetic basis of multiple subtypes using the heterogeneity model, which allows overlapping but different sets of susceptibility genes/SNPs for different subtypes. An accelerated failure time (AFT) model is adopted to describe prognosis. We develop a regularized gradient descent approach, which conducts gene-level analysis and identifies genes that contain important SNPs associated with prognosis. The proposed approach belongs to the family of gradient descent approaches, is intuitively reasonable, and has affordable computational cost. Simulation study shows that when prognosis-associated SNPs are clustered in a small number of genes, the proposed approach outperforms alternatives with significantly more true positives and fewer false positives. We analyze an NHL (non-Hodgkin lymphoma) prognosis study with SNP measurements, and identify genes associated with the three major subtypes of NHL, namely DLBCL, FL and CLL/SLL. The proposed approach identifies genes different from using alternative approaches and has the best prediction performance.
doi:10.1002/gepi.21669
PMCID: PMC3729731  PMID: 22851516
Integrative analysis; Cancer Prognosis; Gradient descent; NHL; SNP
11.  Genomic Predictors for Recurrence Patterns of Hepatocellular Carcinoma: Model Derivation and Validation 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(12):e1001770.
In this study, Lee and colleagues develop a genomic predictor that can identify patients at high risk for late recurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and provided new biomarkers for risk stratification.
Background
Typically observed at 2 y after surgical resection, late recurrence is a major challenge in the management of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We aimed to develop a genomic predictor that can identify patients at high risk for late recurrence and assess its clinical implications.
Methods and Findings
Systematic analysis of gene expression data from human liver undergoing hepatic injury and regeneration revealed a 233-gene signature that was significantly associated with late recurrence of HCC. Using this signature, we developed a prognostic predictor that can identify patients at high risk of late recurrence, and tested and validated the robustness of the predictor in patients (n = 396) who underwent surgery between 1990 and 2011 at four centers (210 recurrences during a median of 3.7 y of follow-up). In multivariate analysis, this signature was the strongest risk factor for late recurrence (hazard ratio, 2.2; 95% confidence interval, 1.3–3.7; p = 0.002). In contrast, our previously developed tumor-derived 65-gene risk score was significantly associated with early recurrence (p = 0.005) but not with late recurrence (p = 0.7). In multivariate analysis, the 65-gene risk score was the strongest risk factor for very early recurrence (<1 y after surgical resection) (hazard ratio, 1.7; 95% confidence interval, 1.1–2.6; p = 0.01). The potential significance of STAT3 activation in late recurrence was predicted by gene network analysis and validated later. We also developed and validated 4- and 20-gene predictors from the full 233-gene predictor. The main limitation of the study is that most of the patients in our study were hepatitis B virus–positive. Further investigations are needed to test our prediction models in patients with different etiologies of HCC, such as hepatitis C virus.
Conclusions
Two independently developed predictors reflected well the differences between early and late recurrence of HCC at the molecular level and provided new biomarkers for risk stratification.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Primary liver cancer—a tumor that starts when a liver cell acquires genetic changes that allow it to grow uncontrollably—is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide, killing more than 600,000 people annually. If hepatocellular cancer (HCC; the most common type of liver cancer) is diagnosed in its early stages, it can be treated by surgically removing part of the liver (resection), by liver transplantation, or by local ablation, which uses an electric current to destroy the cancer cells. Unfortunately, the symptoms of HCC, which include weight loss, tiredness, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), are vague and rarely appear until the cancer has spread throughout the liver. Consequently, HCC is rarely diagnosed before the cancer is advanced and untreatable, and has a poor prognosis (likely outcome)—fewer than 5% of patients survive for five or more years after diagnosis. The exact cause of HCC is unclear, but chronic liver (hepatic) injury and inflammation (caused, for example, by infection with hepatitis B virus [HBV] or by alcohol abuse) promote tumor development.
Why Was This Study Done?
Even when it is diagnosed early, HCC has a poor prognosis because it often recurs. Patients treated for HCC can experience two distinct types of tumor recurrence. Early recurrence, which usually happens within the first two years after surgery, arises from the spread of primary cancer cells into the surrounding liver that left behind during surgery. Late recurrence, which typically happens more than two years after surgery, involves the development of completely new tumors and seems to be the result of chronic liver damage. Because early and late recurrence have different clinical courses, it would be useful to be able to predict which patients are at high risk of which type of recurrence. Given that injury, inflammation, and regeneration seem to prime the liver for HCC development, might the gene expression patterns associated with these conditions serve as predictive markers for the identification of patients at risk of late recurrence of HCC? Here, the researchers develop a genomic predictor for the late recurrence of HCC by examining gene expression patterns in tissue samples from livers that were undergoing injury and regeneration.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
By comparing gene expression data obtained from liver biopsies taken before and after liver transplantation or resection and recorded in the US National Center for Biotechnology Information Gene Expression Omnibus database, the researchers identified 233 genes whose expression in liver differed before and after liver injury (the hepatic injury and regeneration, or HIR, signature). Statistical analyses indicate that the expression of the HIR signature in archived tissue samples was significantly associated with late recurrence of HCC in three independent groups of patients, but not with early recurrence (a significant association between two variables is one that is unlikely to have arisen by chance). By contrast, a tumor-derived 65-gene signature previously developed by the researchers was significantly associated with early recurrence but not with late recurrence. Notably, as few as four genes from the HIR signature were sufficient to construct a reliable predictor for late recurrence of HCC. Finally, the researchers report that many of the genes in the HIR signature encode proteins involved in inflammation and cell death, but that others encode proteins involved in cellular growth and proliferation such as STAT3, a protein with a well-known role in liver regeneration.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings identify a gene expression signature that was significantly associated with late recurrence of HCC in three independent groups of patients. Because most of these patients were infected with HBV, the ability of the HIR signature to predict late occurrence of HCC may be limited to HBV-related HCC and may not be generalizable to HCC related to other causes. Moreover, the predictive ability of the HIR signature needs to be tested in a prospective study in which samples are taken and analyzed at baseline and patients are followed to see whether their HCC recurs; the current retrospective study analyzed stored tissue samples. Importantly, however, the HIR signature associated with late recurrence and the 65-gene signature associated with early recurrence provide new insights into the biological differences between late and early recurrence of HCC at the molecular level. Knowing about these differences may lead to new treatments for HCC and may help clinicians choose the most appropriate treatments for their patients.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001770.
The US National Cancer Institute provides information about all aspects of cancer, including detailed information for patients and professionals about primary liver cancer (in English and Spanish)
The American Cancer Society also provides information about liver cancer (including information on support programs and services; available in several languages)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about primary liver cancer (including a video about coping with cancer)
Cancer Research UK (a not-for-profit organization) also provides detailed information about primary liver cancer (including information about living with primary liver cancer)
MD Anderson Cancer Center provides information about symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of primary liver cancer
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources about liver cancer (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001770
PMCID: PMC4275163  PMID: 25536056
12.  Network-based Survival Analysis Reveals Subnetwork Signatures for Predicting Outcomes of Ovarian Cancer Treatment 
PLoS Computational Biology  2013;9(3):e1002975.
Cox regression is commonly used to predict the outcome by the time to an event of interest and in addition, identify relevant features for survival analysis in cancer genomics. Due to the high-dimensionality of high-throughput genomic data, existing Cox models trained on any particular dataset usually generalize poorly to other independent datasets. In this paper, we propose a network-based Cox regression model called Net-Cox and applied Net-Cox for a large-scale survival analysis across multiple ovarian cancer datasets. Net-Cox integrates gene network information into the Cox's proportional hazard model to explore the co-expression or functional relation among high-dimensional gene expression features in the gene network. Net-Cox was applied to analyze three independent gene expression datasets including the TCGA ovarian cancer dataset and two other public ovarian cancer datasets. Net-Cox with the network information from gene co-expression or functional relations identified highly consistent signature genes across the three datasets, and because of the better generalization across the datasets, Net-Cox also consistently improved the accuracy of survival prediction over the Cox models regularized by or . This study focused on analyzing the death and recurrence outcomes in the treatment of ovarian carcinoma to identify signature genes that can more reliably predict the events. The signature genes comprise dense protein-protein interaction subnetworks, enriched by extracellular matrix receptors and modulators or by nuclear signaling components downstream of extracellular signal-regulated kinases. In the laboratory validation of the signature genes, a tumor array experiment by protein staining on an independent patient cohort from Mayo Clinic showed that the protein expression of the signature gene FBN1 is a biomarker significantly associated with the early recurrence after 12 months of the treatment in the ovarian cancer patients who are initially sensitive to chemotherapy. Net-Cox toolbox is available at http://compbio.cs.umn.edu/Net-Cox/.
Author Summary
Network-based computational models are attracting increasing attention in studying cancer genomics because molecular networks provide valuable information on the functional organizations of molecules in cells. Survival analysis mostly with the Cox proportional hazard model is widely used to predict or correlate gene expressions with time to an event of interest (outcome) in cancer genomics. Surprisingly, network-based survival analysis has not received enough attention. In this paper, we studied resistance to chemotherapy in ovarian cancer with a network-based Cox model, called Net-Cox. The experiments confirm that networks representing gene co-expression or functional relations can be used to improve the accuracy and the robustness of survival prediction of outcome in ovarian cancer treatment. The study also revealed subnetwork signatures that are enriched by extracellular matrix receptors and modulators and the downstream nuclear signaling components of extracellular signal-regulators, respectively. In particular, FBN1, which was detected as a signature gene of high confidence by Net-Cox with network information, was validated as a biomarker for predicting early recurrence in platinum-sensitive ovarian cancer patients in laboratory.
doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002975
PMCID: PMC3605061  PMID: 23555212
13.  Incorporating gene co-expression network in identification of cancer prognosis markers 
BMC Bioinformatics  2010;11:271.
Background
Extensive biomedical studies have shown that clinical and environmental risk factors may not have sufficient predictive power for cancer prognosis. The development of high-throughput profiling technologies makes it possible to survey the whole genome and search for genomic markers with predictive power. Many existing studies assume the interchangeability of gene effects and ignore the coordination among them.
Results
We adopt the weighted co-expression network to describe the interplay among genes. Although there are several different ways of defining gene networks, the weighted co-expression network may be preferred because of its computational simplicity, satisfactory empirical performance, and because it does not demand additional biological experiments. For cancer prognosis studies with gene expression measurements, we propose a new marker selection method that can properly incorporate the network connectivity of genes. We analyze six prognosis studies on breast cancer and lymphoma. We find that the proposed approach can identify genes that are significantly different from those using alternatives. We search published literature and find that genes identified using the proposed approach are biologically meaningful. In addition, they have better prediction performance and reproducibility than genes identified using alternatives.
Conclusions
The network contains important information on the functionality of genes. Incorporating the network structure can improve cancer marker identification.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-11-271
PMCID: PMC2881088  PMID: 20487548
14.  Identification of gene–environment interactions in cancer studies using penalization 
Genomics  2013;102(4):10.1016/j.ygeno.2013.08.006.
High-throughput cancer studies have been extensively conducted, searching for genetic markers associated with outcomes beyond clinical and environmental risk factors. Gene–environment interactions can have important implications beyond main effects. The commonly-adopted single-marker analysis cannot accommodate the joint effects of a large number of markers. The existing joint-effects methods also have limitations. Specifically, they may suffer from high computational cost, do not respect the “main effect, interaction” hierarchical structure, or use ineffective techniques. We develop a penalization method for the identification of important G × E interactions and main effects. It has an intuitive formulation, respects the hierarchical structure, accommodates the joint effects of multiple markers, and is computationally affordable. In numerical study, we analyze prognosis data under the AFT (accelerated failure time) model. Simulation shows satisfactory performance of the proposed method. Analysis of an NHL (non-Hodgkin lymphoma) study with SNP measurements shows that the proposed method identifies markers with important implications and satisfactory prediction performance.
doi:10.1016/j.ygeno.2013.08.006
PMCID: PMC3869641  PMID: 23994599
Gene–environment interaction; Penalized marker identification; Cancer prognosis
15.  Intra-tumor Genetic Heterogeneity and Mortality in Head and Neck Cancer: Analysis of Data from The Cancer Genome Atlas 
PLoS Medicine  2015;12(2):e1001786.
Background
Although the involvement of intra-tumor genetic heterogeneity in tumor progression, treatment resistance, and metastasis is established, genetic heterogeneity is seldom examined in clinical trials or practice. Many studies of heterogeneity have had prespecified markers for tumor subpopulations, limiting their generalizability, or have involved massive efforts such as separate analysis of hundreds of individual cells, limiting their clinical use. We recently developed a general measure of intra-tumor genetic heterogeneity based on whole-exome sequencing (WES) of bulk tumor DNA, called mutant-allele tumor heterogeneity (MATH). Here, we examine data collected as part of a large, multi-institutional study to validate this measure and determine whether intra-tumor heterogeneity is itself related to mortality.
Methods and Findings
Clinical and WES data were obtained from The Cancer Genome Atlas in October 2013 for 305 patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), from 14 institutions. Initial pathologic diagnoses were between 1992 and 2011 (median, 2008). Median time to death for 131 deceased patients was 14 mo; median follow-up of living patients was 22 mo. Tumor MATH values were calculated from WES results. Despite the multiple head and neck tumor subsites and the variety of treatments, we found in this retrospective analysis a substantial relation of high MATH values to decreased overall survival (Cox proportional hazards analysis: hazard ratio for high/low heterogeneity, 2.2; 95% CI 1.4 to 3.3). This relation of intra-tumor heterogeneity to survival was not due to intra-tumor heterogeneity’s associations with other clinical or molecular characteristics, including age, human papillomavirus status, tumor grade and TP53 mutation, and N classification. MATH improved prognostication over that provided by traditional clinical and molecular characteristics, maintained a significant relation to survival in multivariate analyses, and distinguished outcomes among patients having oral-cavity or laryngeal cancers even when standard disease staging was taken into account. Prospective studies, however, will be required before MATH can be used prognostically in clinical trials or practice. Such studies will need to examine homogeneously treated HNSCC at specific head and neck subsites, and determine the influence of cancer therapy on MATH values. Analysis of MATH and outcome in human-papillomavirus-positive oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma is particularly needed.
Conclusions
To our knowledge this study is the first to combine data from hundreds of patients, treated at multiple institutions, to document a relation between intra-tumor heterogeneity and overall survival in any type of cancer. We suggest applying the simply calculated MATH metric of heterogeneity to prospective studies of HNSCC and other tumor types.
In this study, Rocco and colleagues examine data collected as part of a large, multi-institutional study, to validate a measure of tumor heterogeneity called MATH and determine whether intra-tumor heterogeneity is itself related to mortality.
Editors’ Summary
Background
Normally, the cells in human tissues and organs only reproduce (a process called cell division) when new cells are needed for growth or to repair damaged tissues. But sometimes a cell somewhere in the body acquires a genetic change (mutation) that disrupts the control of cell division and allows the cell to grow continuously. As the mutated cell grows and divides, it accumulates additional mutations that allow it to grow even faster and eventually from a lump, or tumor (cancer). Other mutations subsequently allow the tumor to spread around the body (metastasize) and destroy healthy tissues. Tumors can arise anywhere in the body—there are more than 200 different types of cancer—and about one in three people will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime. Many cancers can now be successfully treated, however, and people often survive for years after a diagnosis of cancer before, eventually, dying from another disease.
Why Was This Study Done?
The gradual acquisition of mutations by tumor cells leads to the formation of subpopulations of cells, each carrying a different set of mutations. This “intra-tumor heterogeneity” can produce tumor subclones that grow particularly quickly, that metastasize aggressively, or that are resistant to cancer treatments. Consequently, researchers have hypothesized that high intra-tumor heterogeneity leads to worse clinical outcomes and have suggested that a simple measure of this heterogeneity would be a useful addition to the cancer staging system currently used by clinicians for predicting the likely outcome (prognosis) of patients with cancer. Here, the researchers investigate whether a measure of intra-tumor heterogeneity called “mutant-allele tumor heterogeneity” (MATH) is related to mortality (death) among patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC)—cancers that begin in the cells that line the moist surfaces inside the head and neck, such as cancers of the mouth and the larynx (voice box). MATH is based on whole-exome sequencing (WES) of tumor and matched normal DNA. WES uses powerful DNA-sequencing systems to determine the variations of all the coding regions (exons) of the known genes in the human genome (genetic blueprint).
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers obtained clinical and WES data for 305 patients who were treated in 14 institutions, primarily in the US, after diagnosis of HNSCC from The Cancer Genome Atlas, a catalog established by the US National Institutes of Health to map the key genomic changes in major types and subtypes of cancer. They calculated tumor MATH values for the patients from their WES results and retrospectively analyzed whether there was an association between the MATH values and patient survival. Despite the patients having tumors at various subsites and being given different treatments, every 10% increase in MATH value corresponded to an 8.8% increased risk (hazard) of death. Using a previously defined MATH-value cutoff to distinguish high- from low-heterogeneity tumors, compared to patients with low-heterogeneity tumors, patients with high-heterogeneity tumors were more than twice as likely to die (a hazard ratio of 2.2). Other statistical analyses indicated that MATH provided improved prognostic information compared to that provided by established clinical and molecular characteristics and human papillomavirus (HPV) status (HPV-positive HNSCC at some subsites has a better prognosis than HPV-negative HNSCC). In particular, MATH provided prognostic information beyond that provided by standard disease staging among patients with mouth or laryngeal cancers.
What Do These Findings Mean?
By using data from more than 300 patients treated at multiple institutions, these findings validate the use of MATH as a measure of intra-tumor heterogeneity in HNSCC. Moreover, they provide one of the first large-scale demonstrations that intra-tumor heterogeneity is clinically important in the prognosis of any type of cancer. Before the MATH metric can be used in clinical trials or in clinical practice as a prognostic tool, its ability to predict outcomes needs to be tested in prospective studies that examine the relation between MATH and the outcomes of patients with identically treated HNSCC at specific head and neck subsites, that evaluate the use of MATH for prognostication in other tumor types, and that determine the influence of cancer treatments on MATH values. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that MATH should be considered as a biomarker for survival in HNSCC and other tumor types, and raise the possibility that clinicians could use MATH values to decide on the best treatment for individual patients and to choose patients for inclusion in clinical trials.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001786.
The US National Cancer Institute (NCI) provides information about cancer and how it develops and about head and neck cancer (in English and Spanish)
Cancer Research UK, a not-for-profit organization, provides general information about cancer and how it develops, and detailed information about head and neck cancer; the Merseyside Regional Head and Neck Cancer Centre provides patient stories about HNSCC
Wikipedia provides information about tumor heterogeneity, and about whole-exome sequencing (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
Information about The Cancer Genome Atlas is available
A PLOS Blog entry by Jessica Wapner explains more about MATH
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001786
PMCID: PMC4323109  PMID: 25668320
16.  A Prognosis Classifier for Breast Cancer Based on Conserved Gene Regulation between Mammary Gland Development and Tumorigenesis: A Multiscale Statistical Model 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e60131.
Identification of novel cancer genes for molecular therapy and diagnosis is a current focus of breast cancer research. Although a few small gene sets were identified as prognosis classifiers, more powerful models are still needed for the definition of effective gene sets for the diagnosis and treatment guidance in breast cancer. In the present study, we have developed a novel statistical approach for systematic analysis of intrinsic correlations of gene expression between development and tumorigenesis in mammary gland. Based on this analysis, we constructed a predictive model for prognosis in breast cancer that may be useful for therapy decisions. We first defined developmentally associated genes from a mouse mammary gland epithelial gene expression database. Then, we found that the cancer modulated genes were enriched in this developmentally associated genes list. Furthermore, the developmentally associated genes had a specific expression profile, which associated with the molecular characteristics and histological grade of the tumor. These result suggested that the processes of mammary gland development and tumorigenesis share gene regulatory mechanisms. Then, the list of regulatory genes both on the developmental and tumorigenesis process was defined an 835-member prognosis classifier, which showed an exciting ability to predict clinical outcome of three groups of breast cancer patients (the predictive accuracy 64∼72%) with a robust prognosis prediction (hazard ratio 3.3∼3.8, higher than that of other clinical risk factors (around 2.0–2.8)). In conclusion, our results identified the conserved molecular mechanisms between mammary gland development and neoplasia, and provided a unique potential model for mining unknown cancer genes and predicting the clinical status of breast tumors. These findings also suggested that developmental roles of genes may be important criteria for selecting genes for prognosis prediction in breast cancer.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0060131
PMCID: PMC3614930  PMID: 23565194
17.  Predicting selective drug targets in cancer through metabolic networks 
The authors develop a genome-scale model of cancer metabolism and use it to predict genes that are essential for cancer cell growth. An array of target combinations are then identified that could potentially provide novel selective treatments for specific cancers.
The first genome-scale network model of cancer metabolism is developed and validated by successfully identifying genes essential for cellular proliferation in cancer cell lines.The model predicts 52 cytostatic drug targets, of which 40% are targeted by known, approved or experimental anticancer drugs, and the rest are new.Combinations of synthetic lethal drug targets are predicted, whose synergy is validated using available drug efficacy and gene expression measurements across the NCI-60 cancer cell line collection.Potential selective treatments for specific cancers that depend on cancer type-specific downregulation of gene expression and somatic mutations are compiled.
During tumor development, cancer cells modify their metabolism to meet the requirements of cellular proliferation, thus facilitating the uptake and conversion of nutrients into biomass. Many key metabolic alterations are similar across tumor cells, including changes in glucose metabolism that give rise to the Warburg effect, and an increase in biosynthetic activities (such as nucleotide, lipids and amino-acid synthesis) (DeBerardinis et al, 2008; Tennant et al, 2009; Vander Heiden et al, 2009). The observation that many types of cancer cells adapt their metabolism toward increased proliferation makes flux balance analysis (FBA), a constraint-based modeling (CBM) approach, suitable for modeling cancer metabolism as it assumes that cells are under selective pressure to increase their growth rate (Price et al, 2003).
Building on previous reconstructions of a generic (non-tissue specific) human metabolic network (Duarte et al, 2007; Ma et al, 2007), we develop here the first large-scale FBA model of cancer metabolism that aims to capture the main metabolic alterations that are common across many cancer types. The model reconstruction is based on our recent computational method for the automatic reconstruction of human tissue metabolic models (Jerby et al, 2010), integrating the human metabolic model with cancer gene expression data. The construction of the cancer model focuses on activating a core set of metabolic enzyme-coding genes that are highly expressed across cancer cell lines in the NCI-60 collection, with additional reactions enabling their activation and the biosynthesis of a set of biomass compounds required for cellular proliferation. This generic cancer model enables the successful prediction of the metabolic state of cancer cells across different gene knockdowns and modeling the effects of drug applications on a large scale. As a first demonstration of the predictive performance of the cancer model, we applied it to predict 199 growth-supporting genes whose knockdown is expected to inhibit cellular proliferation, showing that the model predictions indeed match results of shRNA gene silencing experiments (Luo et al, 2008).
To identify viable anticancer drug targets, we predicted whether the knockdown of the growth-supporting genes is likely to be toxic to normal cells. Out of the 199 genes that are predicted to be growth supporting in the cancer model, 52 are predicted to have negligible effects on energy production in normal cells. However, the knockdown of the majority of the latter is yet predicted to potentially cause damage to proliferation of normal cells, suggesting that the targeting of these genes would cause similar side effects to those observed with current cytostatic drugs (Partridge et al, 2001). Next, we predicted 342 synthetic lethal drug targets, whose predicted synergy was validated based on (i) comparison with genetic interactions between the corresponding yeast orthologs (Costanzo et al, 2010) and (ii) by analyzing the efficacy of metabolic drugs targeting these genes, finding that drugs that target a single gene (participating in a predicted synthetic lethal pair) indeed have higher efficacy in cell lines in which the synergistic gene is lowly expressed. In contrast to the single targets described above, the knockdown of a third of these synergistic pairs is predicted to leave the proliferation of normal cells intact. Most importantly, the specific targeting of a gene participating in a synergistic pair is especially appealing in tumors in which its interacting gene is specifically inactivated—the targeting of such a gene solely is likely to selectively damage the tumor, without affecting the function of healthy tissues in which the interacting gene in the pair is active. We utilized genomic and transcriptomic data to infer gene inactivation across an array of cancers, which has led to the identification of cancer type-specific targets based on the intersection of this data with our predicted synergistic gene pairs.
In summary, the model presented here lays down a fundamental computational approach for interpreting the rapidly accumulating proteomics (Bichsel et al, 2001) and metabolomics (Fan et al, 2009) data characterizing cancer metabolic alterations. We hope that the publication of this first step will spur further studies aimed at obtaining a systems level understanding of cancer metabolism and at designing new therapeutic means that selectively target them.
The interest in studying metabolic alterations in cancer and their potential role as novel targets for therapy has been rejuvenated in recent years. Here, we report the development of the first genome-scale network model of cancer metabolism, validated by correctly identifying genes essential for cellular proliferation in cancer cell lines. The model predicts 52 cytostatic drug targets, of which 40% are targeted by known, approved or experimental anticancer drugs, and the rest are new. It further predicts combinations of synthetic lethal drug targets, whose synergy is validated using available drug efficacy and gene expression measurements across the NCI-60 cancer cell line collection. Finally, potential selective treatments for specific cancers that depend on cancer type-specific downregulation of gene expression and somatic mutations are compiled.
doi:10.1038/msb.2011.35
PMCID: PMC3159974  PMID: 21694718
cancer; metabolic; metabolism; modeling; selectivity
18.  Differential Antigen Expression Profile Predicts Immunoreactive Subset of Advanced Ovarian Cancers 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e111586.
The presence and composition of lymphocytes characterizing an immune response has been connected to prognosis in advanced ovarian cancer. Our aim is to establish novel associations between prognosis and the expression of immune-related genes through a focused screen utilizing publicly available high-throughput assays. We consider transcriptome profiles from advanced ovarian cancer patients observed in four separate studies divided into discovery/validation sets (/). We focus on a subset of lymphocyte markers, antigen presentation and processing genes, T cell receptor associated co-stimulatory/repressor genes and cancer testis (CT) antigens. We modeled differential expression and co-expression using these subsets and tested for association with overall survival. Fifteen of 64 immune-related genes are associated with survival of which 5 are reproduced in the validation set. The expression of these genes defines an immunoreactive (IR) subgroup of patients with a favorable prognosis. Phenotypic characterization of the immune compartment signal includes upregulation of markers of CD8+ T-cell activation in these patients. Using multivariate model building, we find that the expression of 6 CT antigens can predict IR status in the discovery and validation sets. These analyses confirm that a genomic approach can reproducibly detect lymphocyte signals in tumor tissue suggesting a novel way to study the tumor microenvironment. Our search has identified new candidate prognostic markers associated with immune components and uncovered preliminary evidence of prognostic subgroups associated with different immune mechanisms.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0111586
PMCID: PMC4224408  PMID: 25380171
19.  Aberrant DNA Methylation of OLIG1, a Novel Prognostic Factor in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(3):e108.
Background
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide. Currently, tumor, node, metastasis (TNM) staging provides the most accurate prognostic parameter for patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, the overall survival of patients with resectable tumors varies significantly, indicating the need for additional prognostic factors to better predict the outcome of the disease, particularly within a given TNM subset.
Methods and Findings
In this study, we investigated whether adenocarcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas could be differentiated based on their global aberrant DNA methylation patterns. We performed restriction landmark genomic scanning on 40 patient samples and identified 47 DNA methylation targets that together could distinguish the two lung cancer subgroups. The protein expression of one of those targets, oligodendrocyte transcription factor 1 (OLIG1), significantly correlated with survival in NSCLC patients, as shown by univariate and multivariate analyses. Furthermore, the hazard ratio for patients negative for OLIG1 protein was significantly higher than the one for those patients expressing the protein, even at low levels.
Conclusions
Multivariate analyses of our data confirmed that OLIG1 protein expression significantly correlates with overall survival in NSCLC patients, with a relative risk of 0.84 (95% confidence interval 0.77–0.91, p < 0.001) along with T and N stages, as indicated by a Cox proportional hazard model. Taken together, our results suggests that OLIG1 protein expression could be utilized as a novel prognostic factor, which could aid in deciding which NSCLC patients might benefit from more aggressive therapy. This is potentially of great significance, as the addition of postoperative adjuvant chemotherapy in T2N0 NSCLC patients is still controversial.
Christopher Plass and colleagues find thatOLIG1 expression correlates with survival in lung cancer patients and suggest that it could be used in deciding which patients are likely to benefit from more aggressive therapy.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Lung cancer is the commonest cause of cancer-related death worldwide. Most cases are of a type called non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Like other cancers, treatment of NCSLC depends on the “TNM stage” at which the cancer is detected. Staging takes into account the size and local spread of the tumor (its T classification), whether nearby lymph nodes contain tumor cells (its N classification), and whether tumor cells have spread (metastasized) throughout the body (its M classification). Stage I tumors are confined to the lung and are removed surgically. Stage II tumors have spread to nearby lymph nodes and are treated with a combination of surgery and chemotherapy. Stage III tumors have spread throughout the chest, and stage IV tumors have metastasized around the body; patients with both of these stages are treated with chemotherapy alone. About 70% of patients with stage I or II lung cancer, but only 2% of patients with stage IV lung cancer, survive for five years after diagnosis.
Why Was This Study Done?
TNM staging is the best way to predict the likely outcome (prognosis) for patients with NSCLC, but survival times for patients with stage I and II tumors vary widely. Another prognostic marker—maybe a “molecular signature”—that could distinguish patients who are likely to respond to treatment from those whose cancer will inevitably progress would be very useful. Unlike normal cells, cancer cells divide uncontrollably and can move around the body. These behavioral changes are caused by alterations in the pattern of proteins expressed by the cells. But what causes these alterations? The answer in some cases is “epigenetic changes” or chemical modifications of genes. In cancer cells, methyl groups are aberrantly added to GC-rich gene regions. These so-called “CpG islands” lie near gene promoters (sequences that control the transcription of DNA into mRNA, the template for protein production), and their methylation stops the promoters working and silences the gene. In this study, the researchers have investigated whether aberrant methylation patterns vary between NSCLC subtypes and whether specific aberrant methylations are associated with survival and can, therefore, be used prognostically.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used “restriction landmark genomic scanning” (RLGS) to catalog global aberrant DNA methylation patterns in human lung tumor samples. In RLGS, DNA is cut into fragments with a restriction enzyme (a protein that cuts at specific DNA sequences), end-labeled, and separated using two-dimensional gel electrophoresis to give a pattern of spots. Because methylation stops some restriction enzymes cutting their target sequence, normal lung tissue and lung tumor samples yield different patterns of spots. The researchers used these patterns to identify 47 DNA methylation targets (many in CpG islands) that together distinguished between adenocarcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas, two major types of NSCLCs. Next, they measured mRNA production from the genes with the greatest difference in methylation between adenocarcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas. OLIG1 (the gene that encodes a protein involved in nerve cell development) had one of the highest differences in mRNA production between these tumor types. Furthermore, three-quarters of NSCLCs had reduced or no expression of OLIG1 protein and, when the researchers analyzed the association between OLIG1 protein expression and overall survival in patients with NSCLC, reduced OLIG1 protein expression was associated with reduced survival.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that different types of NSCLC can be distinguished by examining their aberrant methylation patterns. This suggests that the establishment of different DNA methylation patterns might be related to the cell type from which the tumors developed. Alternatively, the different aberrant methylation patterns might reflect the different routes that these cells take to becoming tumor cells. This research identifies a potential new prognostic marker for NSCLC by showing that OLIG1 protein expression correlates with overall survival in patients with NSCLC. This correlation needs to be tested in a clinical setting to see if adding OLIG1 expression to the current prognostic parameters can lead to better treatment choices for early-stage lung cancer patients and ultimately improve these patients' overall survival.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040108.
Patient and professional information on lung cancer, including staging (in English and Spanish), is available from the US National Cancer Institute
The MedlinePlus encyclopedia has pages on non-small cell lung cancer (in English and Spanish)
Cancerbackup provides patient information on lung cancer
CancerQuest, provided by Emory University, has information about how cancer develops (in English, Spanish, Chinese and Russian)
Wikipedia pages on epigenetics (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
The Epigenome Network of Excellence gives background information and the latest news about epigenetics (in several European languages)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040108
PMCID: PMC1831740  PMID: 17388669
20.  Identification of Prognostic Genes for Recurrent Risk Prediction in Triple Negative Breast Cancer Patients in Taiwan 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e28222.
Discrepancies in the prognosis of triple negative breast cancer exist between Caucasian and Asian populations. Yet, the gene signature of triple negative breast cancer specifically for Asians has not become available. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to construct a prediction model for recurrence of triple negative breast cancer in Taiwanese patients. Whole genome expression profiling of breast cancers from 185 patients in Taiwan from 1995 to 2008 was performed, and the results were compared to the previously published literature to detect differences between Asian and Western patients. Pathway analysis and Cox proportional hazard models were applied to construct a prediction model for the recurrence of triple negative breast cancer. Hierarchical cluster analysis showed that triple negative breast cancers from different races were in separate sub-clusters but grouped in a bigger cluster. Two pathways, cAMP-mediated signaling and ephrin receptor signaling, were significantly associated with the recurrence of triple negative breast cancer. After using stepwise model selection from the combination of the initial filtered genes, we developed a prediction model based on the genes SLC22A23, PRKAG3, DPEP3, MORC2, GRB7, and FAM43A. The model had 91.7% accuracy, 81.8% sensitivity, and 94.6% specificity under leave-one-out support vector regression. In this study, we identified pathways related to triple negative breast cancer and developed a model to predict its recurrence. These results could be used for assisting with clinical prognosis and warrant further investigation into the possibility of targeted therapy of triple negative breast cancer in Taiwanese patients.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0028222
PMCID: PMC3226667  PMID: 22140552
21.  Breast Cancer Survival Analysis: Applying the Generalized Gamma Distribution under Different Conditions of the Proportional Hazards and Accelerated Failure Time Assumptions 
Background:
The goal of this study is to extend the applications of parametric survival models so that they include cases in which accelerated failure time (AFT) assumption is not satisfied, and examine parametric and semiparametric models under different proportional hazards (PH) and AFT assumptions.
Methods:
The data for 12,531 women diagnosed with breast cancer in British Columbia, Canada, during 1990–1999 were divided into eight groups according to patients’ ages and stage of disease, and each group was assumed to have different AFT and PH assumptions. For parametric models, we fitted the saturated generalized gamma (GG) distribution, and compared this with the conventional AFT model. Using a likelihood ratio statistic, both models were compared to the simpler forms including the Weibull and lognormal. For semiparametric models, either Cox's PH model or stratified Cox model was fitted according to the PH assumption and tested using Schoenfeld residuals. The GG family was compared to the log-logistic model using Akaike information criterion (AIC) and Baysian information criterion (BIC).
Results:
When PH and AFT assumptions were satisfied, semiparametric and parametric models both provided valid descriptions of breast cancer patient survival. When PH assumption was not satisfied but AFT condition held, the parametric models performed better than the stratified Cox model. When neither the PH nor the AFT assumptions were met, the log normal distribution provided a reasonable fit.
Conclusions:
When both the PH and AFT assumptions are satisfied, the parametric and semiparametric models provide complementary information. When PH assumption is not satisfied, the parametric models should be considered, whether the AFT assumption is met or not.
PMCID: PMC3445281  PMID: 23024854
Breast cancer; generalized gamma distribution; parametric regression; stratified Cox model; survival analysis
22.  Interactions of miR-323/miR-326/miR-329 and miR-130a/miR-155/miR-210 as prognostic indicators for clinical outcome of glioblastoma patients 
Background
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common and aggressive brain tumor with poor clinical outcome. Identification and development of new markers could be beneficial for the diagnosis and prognosis of GBM patients. Deregulation of microRNAs (miRNAs or miRs) is involved in GBM. Therefore, we attempted to identify and develop specific miRNAs as prognostic and predictive markers for GBM patient survival.
Methods
Expression profiles of miRNAs and genes and the corresponding clinical information of 480 GBM samples from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) dataset were downloaded and interested miRNAs were identified. Patients’ overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS) associated with interested miRNAs and miRNA-interactions were performed by Kaplan-Meier survival analysis. The impacts of miRNA expressions and miRNA-interactions on survival were evaluated by Cox proportional hazard regression model. Biological processes and network of putative and validated targets of miRNAs were analyzed by bioinformatics.
Results
In this study, 6 interested miRNAs were identified. Survival analysis showed that high levels of miR-326/miR-130a and low levels of miR-323/miR-329/miR-155/miR-210 were significantly associated with long OS of GBM patients, and also showed that high miR-326/miR-130a and low miR-155/miR-210 were related with extended PFS. Moreover, miRNA-323 and miRNA-329 were found to be increased in patients with no-recurrence or long time to progression (TTP). More notably, our analysis revealed miRNA-interactions were more specific and accurate to discriminate and predict OS and PFS. This interaction stratified OS and PFS related with different miRNA levels more detailed, and could obtain longer span of mean survival in comparison to that of one single miRNA. Moreover, miR-326, miR-130a, miR-155, miR-210 and 4 miRNA-interactions were confirmed for the first time as independent predictors for survival by Cox regression model together with clinicopathological factors: Age, Gender and Recurrence. Plus, the availability and rationality of the miRNA-interaction as predictors for survival were further supported by analysis of network, biological processes, KEGG pathway and correlation analysis with gene markers.
Conclusions
Our results demonstrates that miR-326, miR-130a, miR-155, miR-210 and the 4 miRNA-interactions could serve as prognostic and predictive markers for survival of GBM patients, suggesting a potential application in improvement of prognostic tools and treatments.
doi:10.1186/1479-5876-11-10
PMCID: PMC3551827  PMID: 23302469
Glioblastoma multiforme; microRNA; Prognostic marker; Overall survival; Progression-free survival; Interaction
23.  Nuclear Receptor Expression Defines a Set of Prognostic Biomarkers for Lung Cancer 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(12):e1000378.
David Mangelsdorf and colleagues show that nuclear receptor expression is strongly associated with clinical outcomes of lung cancer patients, and this expression profile is a potential prognostic signature for lung cancer patient survival time, particularly for individuals with early stage disease.
Background
The identification of prognostic tumor biomarkers that also would have potential as therapeutic targets, particularly in patients with early stage disease, has been a long sought-after goal in the management and treatment of lung cancer. The nuclear receptor (NR) superfamily, which is composed of 48 transcription factors that govern complex physiologic and pathophysiologic processes, could represent a unique subset of these biomarkers. In fact, many members of this family are the targets of already identified selective receptor modulators, providing a direct link between individual tumor NR quantitation and selection of therapy. The goal of this study, which begins this overall strategy, was to investigate the association between mRNA expression of the NR superfamily and the clinical outcome for patients with lung cancer, and to test whether a tumor NR gene signature provided useful information (over available clinical data) for patients with lung cancer.
Methods and Findings
Using quantitative real-time PCR to study NR expression in 30 microdissected non-small-cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) and their pair-matched normal lung epithelium, we found great variability in NR expression among patients' tumor and non-involved lung epithelium, found a strong association between NR expression and clinical outcome, and identified an NR gene signature from both normal and tumor tissues that predicted patient survival time and disease recurrence. The NR signature derived from the initial 30 NSCLC samples was validated in two independent microarray datasets derived from 442 and 117 resected lung adenocarcinomas. The NR gene signature was also validated in 130 squamous cell carcinomas. The prognostic signature in tumors could be distilled to expression of two NRs, short heterodimer partner and progesterone receptor, as single gene predictors of NSCLC patient survival time, including for patients with stage I disease. Of equal interest, the studies of microdissected histologically normal epithelium and matched tumors identified expression in normal (but not tumor) epithelium of NGFIB3 and mineralocorticoid receptor as single gene predictors of good prognosis.
Conclusions
NR expression is strongly associated with clinical outcomes for patients with lung cancer, and this expression profile provides a unique prognostic signature for lung cancer patient survival time, particularly for those with early stage disease. This study highlights the potential use of NRs as a rational set of therapeutically tractable genes as theragnostic biomarkers, and specifically identifies short heterodimer partner and progesterone receptor in tumors, and NGFIB3 and MR in non-neoplastic lung epithelium, for future detailed translational study in lung cancer.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Lung cancer, the most common cause of cancer-related death, kills 1.3 million people annually. Most lung cancers are “non-small-cell lung cancers” (NSCLCs), and most are caused by smoking. Exposure to chemicals in smoke causes changes in the genes of the cells lining the lungs that allow the cells to grow uncontrollably and to move around the body. How NSCLC is treated and responds to treatment depends on its “stage.” Stage I tumors, which are small and confined to the lung, are removed surgically, although chemotherapy is also sometimes given. Stage II tumors have spread to nearby lymph nodes and are treated with surgery and chemotherapy, as are some stage III tumors. However, because cancer cells in stage III tumors can be present throughout the chest, surgery is not always possible. For such cases, and for stage IV NSCLC, where the tumor has spread around the body, patients are treated with chemotherapy alone. About 70% of patients with stage I and II NSCLC but only 2% of patients with stage IV NSCLC survive for five years after diagnosis; more than 50% of patients have stage IV NSCLC at diagnosis.
Why Was This Study Done?
Patient responses to treatment vary considerably. Oncologists (doctors who treat cancer) would like to know which patients have a good prognosis (are likely to do well) to help them individualize their treatment. Consequently, the search is on for “prognostic tumor biomarkers,” molecules made by cancer cells that can be used to predict likely clinical outcomes. Such biomarkers, which may also be potential therapeutic targets, can be identified by analyzing the overall pattern of gene expression in a panel of tumors using a technique called microarray analysis and looking for associations between the expression of sets of genes and clinical outcomes. In this study, the researchers take a more directed approach to identifying prognostic biomarkers by investigating the association between the expression of the genes encoding nuclear receptors (NRs) and clinical outcome in patients with lung cancer. The NR superfamily contains 48 transcription factors (proteins that control the expression of other genes) that respond to several hormones and to diet-derived fats. NRs control many biological processes and are targets for several successful drugs, including some used to treat cancer.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analyzed the expression of NR mRNAs using “quantitative real-time PCR” in 30 microdissected NSCLCs and in matched normal lung tissue samples (mRNA is the blueprint for protein production). They then used an approach called standard classification and regression tree analysis to build a prognostic model for NSCLC based on the expression data. This model predicted both survival time and disease recurrence among the patients from whom the tumors had been taken. The researchers validated their prognostic model in two large independent lung adenocarcinoma microarray datasets and in a squamous cell carcinoma dataset (adenocarcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas are two major NSCLC subtypes). Finally, they explored the roles of specific NRs in the prediction model. This analysis revealed that the ability of the NR signature in tumors to predict outcomes was mainly due to the expression of two NRs—the short heterodimer partner (SHP) and the progesterone receptor (PR). Expression of either gene could be used as a single gene predictor of the survival time of patients, including those with stage I disease. Similarly, the expression of either nerve growth factor induced gene B3 (NGFIB3) or mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) in normal tissue was a single gene predictor of a good prognosis.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that the expression of NR mRNA is strongly associated with clinical outcomes in patients with NSCLC. Furthermore, they identify a prognostic NR expression signature that provides information on the survival time of patients, including those with early stage disease. The signature needs to be confirmed in more patients before it can be used clinically, and researchers would like to establish whether changes in mRNA expression are reflected in changes in protein expression if NRs are to be targeted therapeutically. Nevertheless, these findings highlight the potential use of NRs as prognostic tumor biomarkers. Furthermore, they identify SHP and PR in tumors and two NRs in normal lung tissue as molecules that might provide new targets for the treatment of lung cancer and new insights into the early diagnosis, pathogenesis, and chemoprevention of lung cancer.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000378.
The Nuclear Receptor Signaling Atlas (NURSA) is consortium of scientists sponsored by the US National Institutes of Health that provides scientific reagents, datasets, and educational material on nuclear receptors and their co-regulators to the scientific community through a Web-based portal
The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) provides information and resources to anyone interested in the prevention and treatment of lung and other cancers
The US National Cancer Institute provides detailed information for patients and professionals about all aspects of lung cancer, including information on non-small-cell carcinoma and on tumor markers (in English and Spanish)
Cancer Research UK also provides information about lung cancer and information on how cancer starts
MedlinePlus has links to other resources about lung cancer (in English and Spanish)
Wikipedia has a page on nuclear receptors (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000378
PMCID: PMC3001894  PMID: 21179495
24.  Reporting and Methods in Clinical Prediction Research: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(5):e1001221.
Walter Bouwmeester and colleagues investigated the reporting and methods of prediction studies in 2008, in six high-impact general medical journals, and found that the majority of prediction studies do not follow current methodological recommendations.
Background
We investigated the reporting and methods of prediction studies, focusing on aims, designs, participant selection, outcomes, predictors, statistical power, statistical methods, and predictive performance measures.
Methods and Findings
We used a full hand search to identify all prediction studies published in 2008 in six high impact general medical journals. We developed a comprehensive item list to systematically score conduct and reporting of the studies, based on recent recommendations for prediction research. Two reviewers independently scored the studies. We retrieved 71 papers for full text review: 51 were predictor finding studies, 14 were prediction model development studies, three addressed an external validation of a previously developed model, and three reported on a model's impact on participant outcome. Study design was unclear in 15% of studies, and a prospective cohort was used in most studies (60%). Descriptions of the participants and definitions of predictor and outcome were generally good. Despite many recommendations against doing so, continuous predictors were often dichotomized (32% of studies). The number of events per predictor as a measure of statistical power could not be determined in 67% of the studies; of the remainder, 53% had fewer than the commonly recommended value of ten events per predictor. Methods for a priori selection of candidate predictors were described in most studies (68%). A substantial number of studies relied on a p-value cut-off of p<0.05 to select predictors in the multivariable analyses (29%). Predictive model performance measures, i.e., calibration and discrimination, were reported in 12% and 27% of studies, respectively.
Conclusions
The majority of prediction studies in high impact journals do not follow current methodological recommendations, limiting their reliability and applicability.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
There are often times in our lives when we would like to be able to predict the future. Is the stock market going to go up, for example, or will it rain tomorrow? Being able predict future health is also important, both to patients and to physicians, and there is an increasing body of published clinical “prediction research.” Diagnostic prediction research investigates the ability of variables or test results to predict the presence or absence of a specific diagnosis. So, for example, one recent study compared the ability of two imaging techniques to diagnose pulmonary embolism (a blood clot in the lungs). Prognostic prediction research investigates the ability of various markers to predict future outcomes such as the risk of a heart attack. Both types of prediction research can investigate the predictive properties of patient characteristics, single variables, tests, or markers, or combinations of variables, tests, or markers (multivariable studies). Both types of prediction research can include also studies that build multivariable prediction models to guide patient management (model development), or that test the performance of models (validation), or that quantify the effect of using a prediction model on patient and physician behaviors and outcomes (impact assessment).
Why Was This Study Done?
With the increase in prediction research, there is an increased interest in the methodology of this type of research because poorly done or poorly reported prediction research is likely to have limited reliability and applicability and will, therefore, be of little use in patient management. In this systematic review, the researchers investigate the reporting and methods of prediction studies by examining the aims, design, participant selection, definition and measurement of outcomes and candidate predictors, statistical power and analyses, and performance measures included in multivariable prediction research articles published in 2008 in several general medical journals. In a systematic review, researchers identify all the studies undertaken on a given topic using a predefined set of criteria and systematically analyze the reported methods and results of these studies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified all the multivariable prediction studies meeting their predefined criteria that were published in 2008 in six high impact general medical journals by browsing through all the issues of the journals (a hand search). They then scored the methods and reporting of each study using a comprehensive item list based on recent recommendations for the conduct of prediction research (for example, the reporting recommendations for tumor marker prognostic studies—the REMARK guidelines). Of 71 retrieved studies, 51 were predictor finding studies, 14 were prediction model development studies, three externally validated an existing model, and three reported on a model's impact on participant outcome. Study design, participant selection, definitions of outcomes and predictors, and predictor selection were generally well reported, but other methodological and reporting aspects of the studies were suboptimal. For example, despite many recommendations, continuous predictors were often dichotomized. That is, rather than using the measured value of a variable in a prediction model (for example, blood pressure in a cardiovascular disease prediction model), measurements were frequently assigned to two broad categories. Similarly, many of the studies failed to adequately estimate the sample size needed to minimize bias in predictor effects, and few of the model development papers quantified and validated the proposed model's predictive performance.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that, in 2008, most of the prediction research published in high impact general medical journals failed to follow current guidelines for the conduct and reporting of clinical prediction studies. Because the studies examined here were published in high impact medical journals, they are likely to be representative of the higher quality studies published in 2008. However, reporting standards may have improved since 2008, and the conduct of prediction research may actually be better than this analysis suggests because the length restrictions that are often applied to journal articles may account for some of reporting omissions. Nevertheless, despite some encouraging findings, the researchers conclude that the poor reporting and poor methods they found in many published prediction studies is a cause for concern and is likely to limit the reliability and applicability of this type of clinical research.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001221.
The EQUATOR Network is an international initiative that seeks to improve the reliability and value of medical research literature by promoting transparent and accurate reporting of research studies; its website includes information on a wide range of reporting guidelines including the REMARK recommendations (in English and Spanish)
A video of a presentation by Doug Altman, one of the researchers of this study, on improving the reporting standards of the medical evidence base, is available
The Cochrane Prognosis Methods Group provides additional information on the methodology of prognostic research
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001221
PMCID: PMC3358324  PMID: 22629234
25.  Identification of differentially expressed genes using an annealing control primer system in stage III serous ovarian carcinoma 
BMC Cancer  2010;10:576.
Background
Most patients with ovarian cancer are diagnosed with advanced stage disease (i.e., stage III-IV), which is associated with a poor prognosis. Differentially expressed genes (DEGs) in stage III serous ovarian carcinoma compared to normal tissue were screened by a new differential display method, the annealing control primer (ACP) system. The potential targets for markers that could be used for diagnosis and prognosis, for stage III serous ovarian cancer, were found by cluster and survival analysis.
Methods
The ACP-based reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT PCR) technique was used to identify DEGs in patients with stage III serous ovarian carcinoma. The DEGs identified by the ACP system were confirmed by quantitative real-time PCR. Cluster analysis was performed on the basis of the expression profile produced by quantitative real-time PCR and survival analysis was carried out by the Kaplan-Meier method and Cox proportional hazards multivariate model; the results of gene expression were compared between chemo-resistant and chemo-sensitive groups.
Results
A total of 114 DEGs were identified by the ACP-based RT PCR technique among patients with stage III serous ovarian carcinoma. The DEGs associated with an apoptosis inhibitory process tended to be up-regulated clones while the DEGs associated with immune response tended to be down-regulated clones. Cluster analysis of the gene expression profile obtained by quantitative real-time PCR revealed two contrasting groups of DEGs. That is, a group of genes including: SSBP1, IFI6 DDT, IFI27, C11orf92, NFKBIA, TNXB, NEAT1 and TFG were up-regulated while another group of genes consisting of: LAMB2, XRCC6, MEF2C, RBM5, FOXP1, NUDCP2, LGALS3, TMEM185A, and C1S were down-regulated in most patients. Survival analysis revealed that the up-regulated genes such as DDAH2, RNase K and TCEAL2 might be associated with a poor prognosis. Furthermore, the prognosis of patients with chemo-resistance was predicted to be very poor when genes such as RNase K, FOXP1, LAMB2 and MRVI1 were up-regulated.
Conclusion
The DEGs in patients with stage III serous ovarian cancer were successfully and reliably identified by the ACP-based RT PCR technique. The DEGs identified in this study might help predict the prognosis of patients with stage III serous ovarian cancer as well as suggest targets for the development of new treatment regimens.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-10-576
PMCID: PMC2974737  PMID: 20969748

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