Lung cancer has become increasingly common in women, and gender differences in the physiology and pathogenesis of the disease have suggested a role for estrogens. In the lung recent data have shown local production of estrogens from androgens via the action of aromatase enzyme and higher levels of estrogen in tumor tissue as compared with surrounding normal lung tissue. High levels of aromatase expression are also maintained in metastases as compared with primary tumors. Consistent with these findings, clinical studies suggest that aromatase expression may be a useful predictive biomarker for prognosis in the management of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), the most common form of lung malignancy. Low levels of aromatase associate with a higher probability of long-term survival in older women with early stage NSCLC. Treatment of lung NSCLC xenografts in vivo with an aromatase inhibitor (exemestane) alone or combined with standard cisplatin chemotherapy elicits a significant reduction in tumor progression as compared to paired controls. Further, lung cancer progression is also governed by complex interactions between estrogen and growth factor signaling pathways to stimulate the growth of NSCLC as well as tumor-associated angiogenesis. We find that combination therapy with the multitargeted growth factor receptor inhibitor vandetanib and the estrogen receptor antagonist fulvestrant inhibit tumor growth more effectively than either treatment administered alone. Thus, incorporation of antiestrogen treatment strategies in standard antitumor therapies for NSCLC may contribute to improved patient outcome, an approach that deserves to be tested in clinical trials.
non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC); aromatase; CYP19; estrogen receptor (ER); epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR); vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptor; anastrazole; exemestane; fulvestrant; vandetanib
Lung cancer has long been thought of as a cancer that mainly affects men, but over the past several decades, because of the high increase in tobacco use by women, there has been a corresponding dramatic increase in lung cancer among women. Since 1998, lung cancer deaths in women have surpassed those caused by breast cancer in the United States. Annual lung cancer deaths among women in the US also currently surpass those caused by breast, ovarian, and cervical cancers combined. Women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with adenocarcinoma and small-cell carcinoma of the lung compared to squamous cell carcinoma, and never smokers diagnosed with lung cancer are almost three times more likely to be female than male. These observations in the population, coupled to the findings that both estrogen receptors and aromatase, the enzyme that synthesizes 17β-estradiol, are expressed by lung tumors, suggest a role for female steroid hormones in control of lung cancer growth. Pre-clinical data and clinical data are increasingly emerging to support this concept, and to suggest that a local production of estrogen and expression of ERs occurs in lung tumors that rise in men as well as women. An additional protein that recognizes 17β-estradiol with high affinity, GPR30, is also expressed in lung tumors at high levels and may be responsible for some of the proliferation signals induced by estrogen.
Estrogen signaling is critical in the progression of tumors that bear estrogen receptors. In most patients with breast cancer, inhibitors that block interactions of estrogen with its receptors or suppress the production of endogenous estrogens are important interventions in the clinic. Recent evidence now suggests that estrogen also contributes to the pathogenesis of non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). We used a human lung cancer xenograph model system to analyze the effect of aromatase or estradiol on tumor growth. We further examined the level of protein expression of aromatase in 422 patients with NSCLC using a high-density tissue microarray. Results were confirmed and validated on an independent patient cohort (n = 337). Lower levels of aromatase predicted a greater chance of survival in women 65 years and older. Within this population, the prognostic value of aromatase was greatest in earlier stage lung cancer (stage I/II). In addition, for women with no history of smoking, lower aromatase levels were a strong predictor of survival. Our findings implicate aromatase as an early-stage predictor of survival in some women with NSCLC. We predict that women whose lung cancers have higher levels of aromatase might be good candidates for targeted treatment with aromatase inhibitors.
Estrogen signaling pathways may play a significant role in the pathogenesis of non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC) as evidenced by the expression of aromatase and estrogen receptors (ERα and ERβ) in many of these tumors. Here we examine whether ERα and ERβ levels in conjunction with aromatase define patient groups with respect to survival outcomes and possible treatment regimens. Immunohistochemistry was performed on a high-density tissue microarray with resulting data and clinical information available for 377 patients. Patients were subdivided by gender, age and tumor histology, and survival data was determined using the Cox proportional hazards model and Kaplan-Meier curves. Neither ERα nor ERβ alone were predictors of survival in NSCLC. However, when coupled with aromatase expression, higher ERβ levels predicted worse survival in patients whose tumors expressed higher levels of aromatase. Although this finding was present in patients of both genders, it was especially pronounced in women ≥ 65 years old, where higher expression of both ERβ and aromatase indicated a markedly worse survival rate than that determined by aromatase alone. Conclusion: Expression of ERβ together with aromatase has predictive value for survival in different gender and age subgroups of NSCLC patients. This predictive value is stronger than each individual marker alone. Our results suggest treatment with aromatase inhibitors alone or combined with estrogen receptor modulators may be of benefit in some subpopulations of these patients.
NSCLC; tissue microarray; aromatase; estrogen receptor; immunohistochemistry; prognosis
Recent evidence suggests that estrogen signaling may be involved in the pathogenesis of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Aromatase is an enzyme complex that catalyses the final step in estrogen synthesis and is present in several tissues, including the lung. In the current study we investigated the activity of the aromatase inhibitor exemestane in human NSCLC cell lines H23 and A549.
Aromatase expression was detected in both cell lines. H23 cells showed lower protein and mRNA levels of aromatase, compared to A549 cells. Exemestane decreased cell proliferation and increased apoptosis in both cell lines, 48 h after its application, with A549 exhibiting higher sensitivity than H23 cells. Aromatase protein and mRNA levels were not affected by exemestane in A549 cells, whereas an increase in both protein and mRNA levels was observed in H23 cells, 48 h after exemestane application. Moreover, an increase in cAMP levels was found in both cell lines, 15 min after the administration of exemestane. In addition, we studied the effect of exemestane on epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) localization and activation. Exemestane increased EGFR activation 15 min after its application in H23 cells. Furthermore, we demonstrated a translocation of EGFR from cell membrane, 24 h after the addition of exemestane in H23 cells. No changes in EGFR activation or localization were observed in A549 cells.
Our findings suggest an antiproliferative effect of exemestane on NSCLC cell lines. Exemestane may be more effective in cells with higher aromatase levels. Further studies are needed to assess the activity of exemestane in NSCLC.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the Western world. Lungs can be affected by a number of histologically diverse malignancies. Nonetheless, the vast majority of lung cancers are classified as non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Despite extensive research on different therapeutic regimens, the overall 5-year survival of patients diagnosed with NSCLC (all stages) is a dismal 15%. Although strongly correlated with tobacco smoke, there is an increasing NSCLC morbidity in individuals who have never smoked. The pattern of genetic lesions found in NSCLC derived from smokers and never-smokers appears to be different. This fact led to the hypothesis that different, still unidentified carcinogens are responsible for lung cancer onset in never-smokers. All the above considerations compel the scientific community to find novel therapeutic targets to fight such a deadly disease.
In recent years critical pathways governing embryonic development have been increasingly linked to cancer. Here we will focus on the role of Notch signaling in lung cancer. Notch receptors’ activity can be blocked following different strategies, thus representing a promising alternative/complement to the arsenal of therapeutic strategies currently used to treat lung cancer.
lung cancer; cancer progenitor cells; Notch signaling; hypoxia; cancer stem cells; Notch signaling inhibition
In humans, aromatase (CYP19) gene expression is regulated via alternative promoters. Activation of each promoter gives rise to a CYP19 mRNA species with a unique 5′-untranslated region. Inhibition of aromatase has been reported to downregulate lung tumor growth. The genetic basis for CYP19 gene expression and aromatase activity in lung cancer remains poorly understood. We analyzed tissues from 15 patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) to evaluate CYP19 promoter usage and promoter-specific aromatase mRNA levels in NSCLC tumor tissues and adjacent non-malignant tissues. CYP19 promoter usage was determined by multiplex RT-PCR and aromatase mRNA levels were measured with real-time RT-PCR. In non-malignant tissues, aromatase mRNA was primarily derived from activation of CYP19 promoter I.4. Although promoter I.4 usage was also dominant in tumor tissues, I.4 activation was significantly lower compared with adjacent non-malignant tissues. Activity of promoters I.3, I.1 and I.7 was significantly higher in tumor tissues compared with non-malignant tissues. In 4 of 15 cases of non-small cell lung cancer, switching from CYP19 promoter I.4 to the alternative promoters II, I.1 or I.7 was observed. In 9 cases, there were significantly higher levels of aromatase mRNA in lung tumor tissues compared with adjacent non-malignant tissues. These findings suggest aberrant activation of alternative CYP19 promoters that may lead to upregulation of local aromatase expression in some cases of NSCLC. Further studies are needed to examine the impact of alternative CYP19 promoter usage on local estrogen levels and lung tumor growth.
non-small cell lung cancer; estrogen; aromatase; CYP19; promoter; promoter usage
Background: Squamous cell carcinoma has a stronger association with tobacco smoking than other non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC). A study was undertaken to determine whether chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a risk factor for the squamous cell carcinoma histological subtype in smokers with surgically resectable NSCLC.
Methods: Using a case-control design, subjects with a surgically confirmed diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma were enrolled from smokers undergoing lung resection for NSCLC in the District Hospital of Ferrara, Italy. Control subjects were smokers who underwent lung resection for NSCLC in the same hospital and had a surgically confirmed diagnosis of NSCLC of any histological type other than squamous cell.
Results: Eighty six cases and 54 controls (mainly adenocarcinoma, n = 50) were enrolled. The presence of COPD was found to increase the risk for the squamous cell histological subtype by more than four times. Conversely, the presence of chronic bronchitis was found to decrease the risk for this histological subtype by more than four times. Among patients with chronic bronchitis (n = 77), those with COPD had a 3.5 times higher risk of having the squamous cell histological subtype.
Conclusions: These data suggest that, among smokers with surgically resectable NSCLC, COPD is a risk factor for the squamous cell histological subtype and chronic bronchitis, particularly when not associated with COPD, is a risk factor for the adenocarcinoma histological subtype.
Obesity is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer among post-menopausal women. This is at least partly due to excessive estrogen production in adipose tissue of obese women. Aromatase, the key enzyme in estrogen biosynthesis, is an important target in endocrine therapy for estrogen receptor (ER)-positive postmenopausal breast cancer. In this study we show that high confluency of human adipose stromal cells (ASCs) cultured in vitro can significantly stimulate aromatase gene expression and reduce the expression of breast tumor suppressor BRCA1 and members of the NR4A orphan nuclear family. Furthermore, small interfering RNA (siRNA)-mediated knockdown of Nurr1, a member of the NR4A family, substantially increased aromatase expression. Lastly, we found that the cell density-triggered inducibility of aromatase expression varies in ASCs isolated from different disease-free individuals. Our finding highlights the impact of increased cell number on estrogen biosynthesis as in the case of excessive adiposity.
Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer-related mortality with more than 1.4 million deaths per year worldwide. To search for significant somatic alterations in lung cancer, we analyzed, integrated and manually curated various data sets and literatures to present an integrated genomic database of non-small cell lung cancer (IGDB.NSCLC, http://igdb.nsclc.ibms.sinica.edu.tw). We collected data sets derived from hundreds of human NSCLC (lung adenocarcinomas and/or squamous cell carcinomas) to illustrate genomic alterations [chromosomal regions with copy number alterations (CNAs), gain/loss and loss of heterozygosity], aberrant expressed genes and microRNAs, somatic mutations and experimental evidence and clinical information of alterations retrieved from literatures. IGDB.NSCLC provides user friendly interfaces and searching functions to display multiple layers of evidence especially emphasizing on concordant alterations of CNAs with co-localized altered gene expression, aberrant microRNAs expression, somatic mutations or genes with associated clinicopathological features. These significant concordant alterations in NSCLC are graphically or tabularly presented to facilitate and prioritize as the putative cancer targets for pathological and mechanistic studies of lung tumorigenesis and for developing new strategies in clinical interventions.
New, third-generation aromatase inhibitors (AIs) have proven comparable or superior to the anti-estrogen tamoxifen for treatment of estrogen receptor (ER) and/or progesterone receptor (PR) positive breast cancer. AIs suppress total body and intratumoral estrogen levels. It is unclear whether in situ carcinoma cell aromatization is the primary source of estrogen production for tumor growth and whether the aromatase expression is predictive of response to endocrine therapy. Due to methodological difficulties in the determination of the aromatase protein, COX-2, an enzyme involved in the synthesis of aromatase, has been suggested as a surrogate marker for aromatase expression.
Primary tumor material was retrospectively collected from 88 patients who participated in a randomized clinical trial comparing the AI letrozole to the anti-estrogen tamoxifen for first-line treatment of advanced breast cancer. Semi-quantitative immunohistochemical (IHC) analysis was performed for ER, PR, COX-2 and aromatase using Tissue Microarrays (TMAs). Aromatase was also analyzed using whole sections (WS). Kappa analysis was applied to compare association of protein expression levels. Univariate Wilcoxon analysis and the Cox-analysis were performed to evaluate time to progression (TTP) in relation to marker expression.
Aromatase expression was associated with ER, but not with PR or COX-2 expression in carcinoma cells. Measurements of aromatase in WS were not comparable to results from TMAs. Expression of COX-2 and aromatase did not predict response to endocrine therapy. Aromatase in combination with high PR expression may select letrozole treated patients with a longer TTP.
TMAs are not suitable for IHC analysis of in situ aromatase expression and we did not find COX-2 expression in carcinoma cells to be a surrogate marker for aromatase. In situ aromatase expression in tumor cells is associated with ER expression and may thus point towards good prognosis. Aromatase expression in cancer cells is not predictive of response to endocrine therapy, indicating that in situ estrogen synthesis may not be the major source of intratumoral estrogen. However, aromatase expression in combination with high PR expression may select letrozole treated patients with longer TTP.
Sub-study of trial P025 for advanced breast cancer.
We performed this retrospective study to assess the association of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) with metastatic presentations in advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The data from 125 patients with stage III or IV NSCLC were analyzed. We detected EGFR mutations in 36 NSCLC patients. EGFR mutations were predominant in never-smokers (P < .001), patients with adenocarcinomas (P < .001), and female patients (P < .001). When the metastatic sites were analyzed, pleural metastases were associated with a high incidence of EGFR mutations (P = .028). Particularly, pleural metastases with minimal effusion (PMME) were associated with EGFR mutational status (P = .001). Patients with N3 lesions were less likely to harbor EGFR mutations (P = .033). On multivariate analysis, N3 lesions (P = .017) and PMME (P < .001) remained significant factors for EGFR mutations. EGFR mutations may be associated with different presentations of pleural and N3 nodal metastases.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide among both men and women, with more than 1 million deaths annually. Non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) accounts for about 80% of all lung cancers.
Although recent advances have been made in diagnosis and treatment strategies, the prognosis of NSCLC patients is poor and it is basically due to a lack of early diagnostic tools.
However, in the last years genetic and biochemical studies have provided more information about the protein and gene’s mutations involved in lung tumors. Additionally, recent proteomic and microRNA’s approaches have been introduced to help biomarker discovery.
Here we would like to discuss the most recent discoveries in lung cancer pathways, focusing on the genetic and epigenetic factors that play a crucial role in malignant cell proliferation, and how they could be helpful in diagnosis and targeted therapy.
Lung cancer; oncosuppressors; oncogenes; epigenetics of lung cancer; diagnostic tools for lung cancer.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related mortality not only in the United States but also around the world. In North America, lung cancer has become more predominant among former than current smokers. Yet in some countries, such as China, which has experienced a dramatic increase in the cigarette smoking rate during the past 2 decades, a peak in lung cancer incidence is still expected. Approximately two-thirds of adult Chinese men are smokers, representing one-third of all smokers worldwide. Non–small cell lung cancer accounts for 85% of all lung cancer cases in the United States. After the initial diagnosis, accurate staging of non–small cell lung cancer using computed tomography or positron emission tomography is crucial for determining appropriate therapy. When feasible, surgical resection remains the single most consistent and successful option for cure. However, close to 70% of patients with lung cancer present with locally advanced or metastatic disease at the time of diagnosis. Chemotherapy is beneficial for patients with metastatic disease, and the administration of concurrent chemotherapy and radiation is indicated for stage III lung cancer. The introduction of angiogenesis, epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitors, and other new anticancer agents is changing the present and future of this disease and will certainly increase the number of lung cancer survivors. We identified studies for this review by searching the MEDLINE and PubMed databases for English-language articles published from January 1, 1980, through January 31, 2008. Key terms used for this search included non–small cell lung cancer, adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, bronchioalveolar cell carcinoma, large cell carcinoma, lung cancer epidemiology, genetics, survivorship, surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, bevacizumab, erlotinib, and epidermal growth factor receptor.
Lung cancer is the worldwide leading cause of death from cancer. Tobacco usage is the major pathogenic factor, but all lung cancers are not attributable to smoking. Specifically, lung cancer in never-smokers has been suggested to represent a distinct disease entity compared to lung cancer arising in smokers due to differences in etiology, natural history and response to specific treatment regimes. However, the genetic aberrations that differ between smokers and never-smokers’ lung carcinomas remain to a large extent unclear.
Unsupervised gene expression analysis of 39 primary lung adenocarcinomas was performed using Illumina HT-12 microarrays. Results from unsupervised analysis were validated in six external adenocarcinoma data sets (n=687), and six data sets comprising normal airway epithelial or normal lung tissue specimens (n=467). Supervised gene expression analysis between smokers and never-smokers were performed in seven adenocarcinoma data sets, and results validated in the six normal data sets.
Initial unsupervised analysis of 39 adenocarcinomas identified two subgroups of which one harbored all never-smokers. A generated gene expression signature could subsequently identify never-smokers with 79-100% sensitivity in external adenocarcinoma data sets and with 76-88% sensitivity in the normal materials. A notable fraction of current/former smokers were grouped with never-smokers. Intriguingly, supervised analysis of never-smokers versus smokers in seven adenocarcinoma data sets generated similar results. Overlap in classification between the two approaches was high, indicating that both approaches identify a common set of samples from current/former smokers as potential never-smokers. The gene signature from unsupervised analysis included several genes implicated in lung tumorigenesis, immune-response associated pathways, genes previously associated with smoking, as well as marker genes for alveolar type II pneumocytes, while the best classifier from supervised analysis comprised genes strongly associated with proliferation, but also genes previously associated with smoking.
Based on gene expression profiling, we demonstrate that never-smokers can be identified with high sensitivity in both tumor material and normal airway epithelial specimens. Our results indicate that tumors arising in never-smokers, together with a subset of tumors from smokers, represent a distinct entity of lung adenocarcinomas. Taken together, these analyses provide further insight into the transcriptional patterns occurring in lung adenocarcinoma stratified by smoking history.
Lung cancer; Smoking; Gene expression analysis; Adenocarcinoma; EGFR; Never-smokers; Immune response
The transcription factor TCF21 is involved in mesenchymal-to-epithelial differentiation and was shown to be aberrantly hypermethylated in lung and head and neck cancers. Because of its reported high frequency of hypermethylation in lung cancer, we sought to characterize the stages and types of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that are hypermethylated and to define the frequency of hypermethylation and associated “second hits”.
We determined TCF21 promoter hypermethylation in 105 NSCLC including various stages and histologies in smokers and nonsmokers. Additionally, we examined TCF21 loss-of-heterozygosity and mutational status. We also assayed 22 cancer cell lines from varied tissue origins. We validated and expanded our NSCLC results by examining TCF21 immunohistochemical expression on a tissue microarray containing 300 NSCLC cases.
Overall, 81% of NSCLC samples showed TCF21 promoter hypermethylation and 84% showed decreased TCF21 protein expression. Multivariate analysis showed that TCF21 expression, although below normal in both histologies, was lower in adenocarcinoma than squamous cell carcinoma, and was not independently correlated with gender, smoking and EGFR mutation status, or clinical outcome. Cell lines from other cancer types also showed frequent TCF21 promoter hypermethylation.
Hypermethylation and decreased expression of TCF21 were tumor-specific and very frequent in all NSCLC, even early-stage disease, thus making TCF21 a potential candidate methylation biomarker for early-stage NSCLC screening. TCF21 hypermethylation in a variety of tumor cell lines suggests it may also be a valuable methylation biomarker in other tumor types.
TCF21; methylation; biomarker; lung cancer; screening
Lung cancer causes approximately 1.2 million deaths per year worldwide, and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) represents 85% of all lung cancers. Understanding the molecular events in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is essential to improve early diagnosis and treatment for this disease.
Methodology and Principal Findings
In an attempt to identify novel NSCLC related genes, we performed a genome-wide screening of chromosomal copy number changes affecting gene expression using microarray based comparative genomic hybridization and gene expression arrays on 32 radically resected tumor samples from stage I and II NSCLC patients. An integrative analysis tool was applied to determine whether chromosomal copy number affects gene expression. We identified a deletion on 14q32.2-33 as a common alteration in NSCLC (44%), which significantly influenced gene expression for HSP90, residing on 14q32. This deletion was correlated with better overall survival (P = 0.008), survival was also longer in patients whose tumors had low expression levels of HSP90. We extended the analysis to three independent validation sets of NSCLC patients, and confirmed low HSP90 expression to be related with longer overall survival (P = 0.003, P = 0.07 and P = 0.04). Furthermore, in vitro treatment with an HSP90 inhibitor had potent antiproliferative activity in NSCLC cell lines.
We suggest that targeting HSP90 will have clinical impact for NSCLC patients.
Although TP53 mutations have been widely studied in lung cancer, the majority of studies have focused on exons 5-8 of the gene. In addition, TP53 mutations in Korean patients with lung cancers have not been investigated. We searched for mutations in the entire coding exons, including splice sites of the gene, in Korean patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Mutations of the gene were determined by direct sequencing in 176 NSCLCs. Sixty-nine mutations (62 different mutations) were identified in 65 tumors. Of the 62 mutations, 12 were novel mutations. TP53 mutations were more frequent in males, ever-smokers and squamous cell carcinomas than in females, never-smokers and adenocarcinomas, respectively (all comparisons, P<0.001). Missense mutations were most common (52.2%), but frameshift, nonsense, and splice-site mutations were frequently observed at frequencies of 18.8%, 15.9% and 10.1%, respectively. Of the 69 mutations, 9 (13.0%) were found in the oligomerization domain. In addition, the proportion of mutations in the oligomerization domain was significantly higher in adenocarcinomas than in squamous cell carcinomas (23.5% vs. 2.9%, P=0.01). Our study provides clinical and molecular characteristics of TP53 mutations in Korean patients with NSCLCs.
Lung Neoplasms; Mutation; Genes, p53
Pathogenesis and growth of three common women’s cancers (breast, endometrium and ovary) are linked to estrogen. A single gene encodes the key enzyme for estrogen biosynthesis named aromatase, inhibition of which effectively eliminates estrogen production in the entire body. Aromatase inhibitors successfully treat breast cancer, whereas their roles in endometrial and ovarian cancers are less clear. Ovary, testis, adipose tissue, skin, hypothalamus and placenta express aromatase normally, whereas breast, endometrial and ovarian cancers overexpress aromatase and produce local estrogen exerting paracrine and intracrine effects. Tissue-specific promoters distributed over a 93-kilobase regulatory region upstream of a common coding region alternatively control aromatase expression. A distinct set of transcription factors regulates each promoter in a signaling pathway- and tissue-specific manner. In cancers of breast, endometrium and ovary, aromatase expression is primarly regulated by increased activity of the proximally located promoter I.3/II region. Promoters I.3 and II lie 215 bp from each other and are coordinately stimulated by PGE2 via a cAMP-PKA-dependent pathway. In breast adipose fibroblasts exposed to PGE2 secreted by malignant epithelial cells, activation of PKC potentiates cAMP-PKA-dependent induction of aromatase. Thus, inflammatory substances such as PGE2 may play important roles in inducing local production of estrogen that promotes tumor growth.
Aromatase; aromatase inhibitor; breast cancer; endometrial cancer; endometriosis; uterine leiomyomata; fibroids; aromatase overexpression; gain-of-function mutations; aromatase excess syndrome; gynecomastia; estrogen; estrogen biosynthesis; endometrium; uterus
Recently published evidence indicates that involuntary smoking causes an increased risk of lung cancer among nonsmokers. Information was compiled on the proportion of people who had never smoked among victims of lung cancer, the risk of lung cancer for nonsmokers married to smokers and the prevalence of such exposure. On the basis of these data we estimate that 50 to 60 of the deaths from lung cancer in Canada in 1985 among people who had never smoked were caused by spousal smoking; about 90% occurred in women. The total number of deaths from lung cancer attributable to exposure to tobacco smoke from spouses and other sources (mainly the workplace) was derived by applying estimated age- and sex-specific rates of death from lung cancer attributable to such exposure to the population of Canadians who have never smoked; about 330 deaths from lung cancer annually are attributable to such exposure.
Epidemiologic and biologic evidence suggests that lung cancer has different clinical and biological characteristics in women, and that estrogen may contribute to the pathogenesis of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). We investigated whether germline variation in the estrogen receptor-beta gene (ESR2) is associated with lung cancer risk among 1021 female cases and 826 female controls enrolled in the Lung Cancer Susceptibility Study at the Massachusetts General Hospital from 1992 – 2004. Four haplotype-tagging polymorphisms (htSNPs) (rs3020450, rs1256031, rs1256049, rs4986938) captured the common genetic variation across the ESR2 locus from a set of markers culled from healthy controls from a public database and sequencing the coding regions of 95 breast cancer cases. Using the expectation-maximization algorithm, five common haplotypes were resolved [CCGC (43%), TCAT (287%), TCAC (11%), CCAC (9%) and CCAT (6%)]. Multivariate logistic regression was used to estimate adjusted odds ratios (OR) and their 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) for individual htSNPs and haplotype scores. Neither the four individual htSNPs nor their resolved haplotypes were associated with lung cancer risk in the entire population, nor in strata defined by parity (yes vs. no), age (<50 vs. ≥50 years) or smoking history (current, former, never smokers). Our findings indicate that ESR2 is not associated with risk of lung cancer in women.
non-small cell lung cancer; estrogen receptor-beta (ESR2); molecular epidemiology; tobacco; parity; women
Steroid hormones and growth factors affect lung cancer, and it is possible they act in concert to influence patient outcome.
Primary lung tumors and normal lung tissue were analyzed for expression and localization of estrogen receptor α and β–1 ERα and ERβ), aromatase, progesterone receptor (PR), and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR).
Tumors expressed higher levels of ERβ compared to matched normal lung, while the reverse was true of PR. High cytoplasmic ERβ expression was identified as an independent negative prognostic predictor of overall survival (OS) (HR=1.67), and low total PR was identified as an independent negative predictor of time to progression (TTP) (HR=1.59). After adjusting for stage, age, sex and smoking, combined high cytoplasmic ERβ and low total PR showed enhanced effects on OS (HR=2.64) and on TTP (HR=6.02). Further effects on OS were observed when EGFR expression was included (HR=5.32). Patients with low cytoplasmic ERβ, low aromatase, low EGFR and high total PR had shorter OS than patients with the opposite pattern (HR= 6.60). Contribution of these markers to survival showed no significant sex differences in a multivariable model. ERα was elevated in tumors but was not predictive of survival, and appears to represent a variant ERα protein that is only recognized by a C-terminal antibody.
Hormonal and EGFR pathways together may contribute to lung cancer prognosis. Lung tumors with high ERβ–1 /low PR may define patients with aggressive biology. A validation study is necessary to fully assess the predictive value of these markers.
estrogen receptor; progesterone receptor; aromatase; epidermal growth factor receptor; lung cancer
Epidemiologic studies suggest that women who smoke have lower endogenous estrogen than nonsmokers. To explore the possible link between cigarette smoking and decreased endogenous estrogens, we have examined the effects of constituents of tobacco on estrogen production in human choriocarcinoma cells and term placental microsomes. In choriocarcinoma cell cultures, nicotine, cotinine (a major metabolite of nicotine), and anabasine (a minor component of cigarette tobacco) all inhibited androstenedione conversion to estrogen in a dose-dependent fashion. Removal of nicotine, cotinine, and anabasine from the culture medium resulted in the complete reversal of the inhibition of aromatase. In the choriocarcinoma cell cultures, a supraphysiologic concentration of androstenedione (73 microM) in the culture medium blocked the inhibition of aromatase caused by nicotine, cotinine, and anabasine. In preparations of term placental microsomes, nicotine, cotinine, and anabasine inhibited the conversion of testosterone to estrogen. Kinetic analysis demonstrated the inhibition to be competitive with respect to the substrate. These findings suggest that some nicotinic alkaloids directly inhibit aromatase. This mechanism may explain, in part, the decreased estrogen observed in women who smoke.
Lung cancer incidence continues to rise and is the number one cause of cancer death in both men and women worldwide with projected 221,130 new cases and 156,940 deaths in the United States in 2011.1 Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) represents more than 85% of the cases with most patients having either locally advanced or metastatic disease at the time of initial diagnosis, and approximately 60%–70% of them have an adenocarcinoma histologic subtype. In the last three years, we have seen several advances in the management of NSCLC, with several factors playing an important role in the treatment decision making process. Maintenance therapy has been added to the algorithm of NSCLC management and Pemetrexed has been studied as single agent or in combination in this setting with recent studies showing safety and improved progression free survival (PFS) and/or overall survival (OS), still the disease for the most part has a dismal outcome. More research work needs to be done to identify which patients truly benefit from these approaches, and to whom we should offer maintenance or switch maintenance vs. close observation.
Pemetrexed; maintenance; lung cancer
Lung cancer remains the main cause of all cancer deaths in the USA. The gloomy prognosis for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) regardless of advances in current treatment modalities is most disappointing. Traditionally, disinterest and underfunding of research into the pathogenesis of lung cancer compared to other types of malignancies continued until fairly recently; Evaluating the complexity of the socio-politico-economic reasons behind this is beyond the scope of this article. Fortunately, increasing public awareness and current global political and legislative pressure against the tobacco industry is serving as a momentum pushing the study of lung cancer forward. Slowly but readily we are gaining important insights into the molecular pathogenesis of lung cancer, a fascinating and heterogeneous group of diseases; we are starting to understand their genetic and epigenetic anomalies, which seem to occur in a stepwise manner, mainly secondary but not exclusively due to tobacco smoking. Together with this, the emerging power of gene expression signatures for individual lung tumors and with the promising field of stem cell biology and the paradigm of cancer stem cells, we are most certainly paving the way to developing novel tools for the early detection, chemoprevention and treatment of these incredibly morbid pathologies with enormous global human and financial burdens. In this article we will explore all these issues and how we are starting to translate them into real diagnostic, therapeutic and prognostic clinically relevant tools for our lung cancer patients.
Non-small cell lung cancer; tobacco; gene expression signatures; lobectomy and sublobar resection; stem cells; novel targeted therapies; chemoprevention; molecular markers; individualized treatment