Acute exacerbation (AE) of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) in lung cancer patients is a critical factor in post-operative mortality. The cause of AE development is unknown and AE may occur in patients without the diagnosis of IPF. We have conducted a retrospective study of consecutive patients who underwent lung cancer surgery since January 2004. Sixty-two patients with fibrous findings in preoperative high-resolution computed tomography were enrolled in the present study and clinicopathological factors were analysed. AE was observed in 6 of 62 patients. The frequency of AE according to the type of fibrous changes classification was 1/7 in the usual interstitial pneumonia (UIP) pattern, 1/16 in the cellular non-specific interstitial pneumonia (NSIP) pattern, 4/25 in the fibrotic NSIP pattern and 0/14 in the unclassified or focal fibrous changes pattern. Preoperative Krebs von den Lungen-6 (KL-6) was higher in patients with AE than in those without AE. In patients who underwent partial resection, AE did not develop even with high KL-6 levels. In conclusion, in patients with both the UIP and the NSIP patterns, AE development is possible. In patients with a high risk of AE, such as those with high KL-6 values, limited surgery may be an option to prevent AE development.
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; Acute exacerbation; Lung cancer; KL-6
RagD is a member of the small G protein family, which encodes a recently discovered activator of the mTOR pathway. In vitro, RagD plays an important role in the proliferation of NRF2 gene (NFE2L2) mutated cancer cells. We hypothesized that tumor RagD expression may be correlated with the mutation status of NRF2 in lung cancers. RagD mRNA levels were analyzed by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) in 90 surgically-treated lung squamous cell cancer cases, including 14 NRF2 mutation cases, and normalized by β-actin mRNA levels. Mean RagD/β-actin mRNA levels of lung squamous cell carcinoma patients did not differ with age (≤65 vs. >65), Brinkman index (<400 vs. ≥400) or gender. RagD/β-actin mRNA levels were significantly higher in stage III samples (3.204±3.623) compared to stage I samples (1.357±1.560) (P= 0.0039). In addition, higher RagD/β-actin mRNA levels were identified in NRF2 mutant samples (3.107±3.633) compared to wild-type samples (1.774±2.301) (P=0.074). These results suggest that RagD induction by NRF2 activation plays a role in the proliferation of lung squamous cell cancers.
NRF2; lung cancer; squamous cell carcinoma; RagD; mutation
Inflammation plays key roles at various stages of tumor development, including invasion and metastasis. In mice, the angiopoietin-like protein (ANGPTL2) gene has been implicated in inflammatory carcinogenesis. ANGPTL2 mRNA expression was investigated by real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay using LightCycler in surgically treated non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cases. In total, 110 surgically resected NSCLC cases were used for mRNA level analyses. The ANGPTL2/β-actin mRNA levels were not significantly different between lung cancer (1598.481±6465.781) and adjacent normal lung tissues (2116.639±8337.331, P=0.5453). The tumor/normal (T/N) ratio of ANGPTL2/β-actin mRNA levels was not different between gender, age, smoking status and pathological stages. The T/N ratio of ANGPTL2/β-actin mRNA levels was significantly higher in lymph node metastasis-positive cases (2.173±3.151) compared with lymph node metastasis-negative cases (1.212±1.778, P=0.0464). However, ANGPTL2 mRNA status was not correlated with tumor invasion status. Thus, ANGPTL2 may drive metastasis and provide a candidate for blockade of its function as a strategy to antagonize the metastatic process in NSCLC.
ANGTL2; angiopoietin; lung cancer; metastasis; LightCycler
The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene is highly polymorphic and its expression and activity may be affected by various polymorphisms. There have been several studies examining associations between EGFR polymorphisms and clinical outcome of lung cancer therapy; however, the underlying mechanism is largely unknown. The present study investigated EGFR polymorphism status and its correlation with clinicopathological features in Japanese non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients. We investigated 5 polymorphisms in the EGFR gene (−216G/T, −191C/A, 8227G/A, D994D and R497K) in 274 surgically-treated NSCLC patients. TaqMan single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotyping assays and a PCR-based assay were used to analyze these polymorphisms. In our cohort of patients we did not find any evidence of the −191C/A polymorphism. Our results showed that the patients with the 8227GA or AA type in intron 1 had a significantly better prognosis with the anti-EGFR therapy than the patients with the GG type (p=0.0448) in terms of recurrence of lung cancer. No significant association was observed between 3 other SNPs (−216G/T, D994D and R497K) and clinicopathological features. The EGFR 8227G/A polymorphism in intron 1 may be associated with clinical outcome in NSCLC patients treated with EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors.
epidermal growth factor receptor; polymorphism; lung cancer; gefitinib therapy; 8227G/A
RET encodes the tyrosine kinase receptor of growth factors belonging to the glial-derived neurotrophic factor family. Recently, RET gene rearrangements with N-terminal of KIF5B gene were identified in lung adenocarcinomas from large-scale sequencing. We investigated RET mRNA expression by real-time reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay using LightCycler, and KIF5B/RET gene rearrangements using newly established fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) analysis in surgically treated nonsmall cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cases. RET protein expression was also investigated by immunohistochemistry (IHC). This study included 157 surgically removed NSCLC cases for mRNA level analyses. The RET/β actin mRNA levels were not significantly different between lung cancer (6.359 ± 15.268) and adjacent normal lung tissues (8.205 ± 28.931, P = 0.6332). Tumor/normal (T/N) ratio of RET/β actin mRNA levels was not different within gender, stage, smoking status, and pathological subtypes. T/N ratio of RET/β actin mRNA levels was significantly higher in KIF5B/RET rearrangement samples (161.763 ± 123.488) than in wild-type samples (5.9013 ± 17.148, P = 0.044). Although RET IHC positivity was not perfectly correlated with KIF5B/RET arrangement, we have detected the KIF5B/RET rearrangements using FISH analysis. Thus, we have successfully introduced FISH for diagnosing KIF5B/RET positive lung adenocarcinoma. This method facilitates the molecular evaluation for RET fusions and could be applicable in clinical practice to detect lung cancer that may be responsive to RET inhibitors.
FISH; KIF5B/RET; lung cancer; RET expression
Discoidin domain receptor 2, DDR2, is a tyrosine kinase receptor for fibrillar collagen that is involved in postnatal development, tissue repair and primary and metastatic cancer progression. Recently, mutations in the DDR2 kinase gene were identified in squamous cell lung cancer from large-scale Sanger sequencing. The present study investigated the DDR2 gene mutations and mRNA expression in surgically treated non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) of squamous histology cases. The presence or absence of DDR2 mutations at the kinase and discoidin domain was analyzed by direct sequencing. In this cohort, DDR2 mutations were not observed in the 166 patients with lung cancer, although DDR2 polymorphisms were observed (H136H, n=14) at the discoidin domain. mRNA levels of DDR2 in lung tumor samples and the adjacent normal lung samples were simultaneously analyzed. DDR2 mRNA levels were significantly decreased in tumor samples compared with normal lung samples. However, the DDR2 mRNA levels were elevated in the DDR2 polymorphism cases.
discoidin domain receptor 2; mRNA expression; lung cancer; squamous cell carcinoma; polymorphism
The erbB pathway involves a family of tyrosine kinases and contributes to resistance or sensitivity to chemotherapy in many tumor types. Somatic mutations of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene at the kinase domain have been found in lung cancer patients. These mutations are correlated with clinical response to targeted molecular therapy. Although Caucasian lung cancer patients have been shown to harbor Braf and erbB2 mutations, only a few reports exist concerning Braf and erbB2 mutations in Japanese lung cancer patients. We investigated the Braf and erbB2 mutation status in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and direct sequencing. The study included 305 surgically removed lung cancer samples from the Nagoya City University Hospital, which were EGFR and Kras wild-type centric. Six Braf mutations were found in the adenocarcinoma cases. Among the adenocarcinoma cases, Braf mutations were more frequently noted in heavy smokers (Brinkman index >400, p=0.0476). We also detected five erbB2 mutations all in the non-smokers. All of these mutations existed exclusively. The erbB2 gene mutations were predominantly found in non-smokers with adenocarcinomas. However, the completely exclusive mutation status could help us design individually tailored targeted molecular therapy for lung cancer.
Braf; epidermal growth factor receptor; lung cancer; mutations; erbB2; adenocarcinoma
We report the case of a 58-year-old male presenting with giant cell myocarditis and myositis associated with thymoma following treatment with carboplatin and paclitaxel. The patient was diagnosed as having stage IVa thymoma. Acetylcholine receptor binding antibody titers were positive at 42 nmol/l, although the patient exhibited no symptoms of myasthenia gravis (MG). The patient was treated with a combination of carboplatin and paclitaxel. However, 18 days following administration of this second cycle of chemotherapy, the patient developed a low-grade fever. Twenty-one days after receiving the second cycle of chemotherapy, the patient was admitted to the Nagoya City University Medical School complaining of general fatigue. Serum levels of creatinine phosphokinase (7,271 U/l), alanine aminotransferase (469 U/l) and aspartate aminotransferase (561 U/l) were elevated. Electromyography revealed no evidence of a neuromuscular junction defect or myopathic process. The patient developed progressive muscle weakness and succumbed to the disease in hospital on day 9. An autopsy revealed thymoma invasion of the left parietal and visceral pleura, pericardium and diaphragm. Numerous skeletal muscle groups and myocardium exhibited diffuse lymphocytic infiltration. Although it has been suggested that myocardial disorders may occur in patients with thymoma and/or MG, the mechanism involved remains unknown. This second report may provide new data regarding giant cell myocarditis and myositis associated with thymoma following treatment with carboplatin and paclitaxel.
thymoma; myocarditis; myositis; carboplatin; paclitaxel
The transcription factor Sox2 is necessary for foregut morphogenesis. Sox2 is also required for the normal development of the trachea and lung. Recently, Sox2 amplifications were investigated using large-scale single nucleotide polymorphism arrays in esophageal and lung cancer. We hypothesized that Sox2 overexpression might be correlated with clinicopathological features of lung cancers. The increased copy number of the Sox2 gene was analyzed by real-time polymerase chain reaction amplifications in 127 surgically treated non-small cell lung cancer cases from Nagoya City University Hospital, Japan. A total of 87 squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) cases were involved. An increased Sox2 gene copy number was found in 42 (33.1%) lung cancer patients. Increased Sox2 copy number status was significantly correlated with gender (females, 9.5% vs. males, 34.1%; p=0.0026), smoking status (never smoker, 4.8% vs. smoker, 32.9%; p=0.0003) and pathological subtypes (squamous cell carcinoma, 44.8% vs. non-squamous cell carcinoma, 7.5%; p<0.0001). However, among the SCCs, the Sox2 copy number status was not significantly correlated with gender, smoking status, pathological stage or differentiation status. An increased Sox2 copy number is common within SCC.
Sox2; lung cancer; squamous cell carcinoma; copy number; differentiation
CD44v6 has been causally associated with the development of metastases and with poor prognosis in various human malignancies. To elucidate the clinicopathological significance of CD44v6 expression in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), the present study aimed to investigate the expression of CD44v6 using immunohistological techniques. Using specific antibodies against CD44v6 and CD44s, expression of the proteins was analyzed immunohistochemically in 63 primary esophageal ESCCs, which were previously resected at the Nagoya City University Hospital without pre-operative induction therapy. Using light microscopy, the positive expression of CD44v6 was divided into a low- or high-expression group. The expression of CD44v6 in ESCC was analyzed with respect to various clinicopathological characteristics. The frequency of CD44v6 expression was 90.5% (57/63). The CD44v6 high-expression group comprised 55.6% of the patients (n=35) and the low expression group included 44.4% of the patients (n=28). In this study, no significant difference was observed between any clinicopathological factor and the immunohistochemical expression of CD44v6. In patients with high levels of CD44v6 expression, survival was markedly worse (p=0.0327). Favorable outcomes were observed for the clinicopathological characteristics of 6 patients whose tissue immunohistochemical expression of CD44v6 was not detected. Moreover, multivariate analysis confirmed that expression of CD44v6 was an independent prognostic indicator (risk ratio =2.793; p=0.0301). Overexpression of CD44v6 is a useful prognostic indicator of ESCC. Therefore, CD44v6 should be investigated as a potential target for therapy.
CD44v6; esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; immunohistochemistry
FBXW7 is a tumor suppressor gene that induces the degradation of positive cell-cycle regulators such as c-Myc, cyclin E, c-Jun and Notch. The loss of FBXW7 promotes cell-cycle progression and cell proliferation. In the present study, we investigated the relationship between FBXW7 expression and the clinicopathological characteristics of patients with esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). The expression of FBXW7 was quantified by real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction in 43 primary ESCCs and their paired normal esophageal mucosa in patients who had not received preoperative therapy. FBXW7 expression levels were significantly correlated with the progression of the cancer and with local invasiveness. In muscle-invasive tumor cases (T2–4), lymphatic invasive tumor cases and stage II–IV cases, FBXW7 expression levels were significantly decreased (P=0.0315, P=0.0336 and P=0.0289, respectively). Decreased expression of FBXW7 was correlated with poor prognosis (P=0.0255). In conclusion, this study examined the relationship between FBXW7 expression and tumor progression in ESCC. We suggest that FBXW7 is a molecular prognostic marker and can be used to elucidate the mechanism of carcinogenesis.
esophageal cancer; prognosis; FBXW7
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is a common malignancy and one of the more difficult diseases to diagnose in Japan due to its poor prognosis. MicroRNAs are small non-coding RNAs of 21–23 nucleotides that regulate gene expression. MicroRNA-34b (miR-34b) has been reported to be overexpressed in various types of cancer. However, its role in ESCC has yet to be extensively studied. The present study investigated the expression of miR-34b in 88 ESCC patients. The miR-34b expression in ESCC was significantly higher than that in the corresponding normal esophageal mucosa. It was more highly expressed in tumors with more advanced stages. However, its expression did not correlate with the p53 status. Transfection of anti-miR-34b to the ESCC cells suppressed cell growth in vitro. These results suggest an oncogenic role of miR in ESCC.
microRNA-34b; esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; MTT assay
The diagnosis of lymph node metastasis in esophageal cancer by the presence and number of metastatic lymph nodes is an extremely important prognostic factor. In addition, the indication of non-surgical therapy is gaining more attention. Vascular endothelial growth factor C (VEGF-C) is potentially lymphangiogenic and selectively induces hyperplasia of the lymphatic vasculature. In this study, we investigated the expression of VEGF-C and whether it correlated with various clinico-pathologic findings.
KYSE series of esophageal cancer cell lines and 106 patients with primary esophageal squamous cell carcinomas who had undergone radical esophagectomy were analyzed. VEGF-C mRNA expression was determined by quantitative RT-PCR.
High expression of VEGF-C was detected in most of the KYSE cell lines, especially KYSE410, yet, in an esophageal normal epithelium cell line, Het-1A, VEGF-C was not detected. In the clinical specimen, the expression of VEGF-C in the cancerous tissue was higher than in the corresponding noncancerous esophageal mucosa (p = 0.026). The expression of VEGF-C was found to be higher in Stage2B-4A tumors than in Stage0-2A tumors (p = 0.049). When the patients were divided into two groups according to their expression levels of VEGF-C (a group of 53 cases with high expression and a group of 53 cases with low expression), the patients with high VEGF-C expression had significantly shorter survival after surgery than the patients with low expression (p = 0.0065). Although univariate analysis showed that high expression of VEGF-C was a statistically significant prognostic factor, this was not shown in multivariate analysis. In the subgroup of patients with Tis and T1 tumors, the expression of VEGF-C was higher in N1 tumors than in N0 tumors (p = 0.029). The survival rate of patients from the high expression group (n = 10) was lower than that in the low expression group (n = 11), and all the patients in the low VEGF-C expression group survived.
The expression of VEGF-C correlates with lymph node metastasis and poor prognosis. In patients with Tis and T1 esophageal tumors, the expression of VEGF-C may be a good diagnostic factor for determining metastasis of the lymph node.
Large tumor suppressor (LATS) 1 and 2 are tumor suppressor genes implicated in the regulation of the cell cycle. The methylation statuses of the promoter regions of these genes were studied in Japanese lung cancers. The methylation statuses of the promoter regions of LATS1 and LATS2 were investigated by methylation-specific PCR. The findings were compared to clinicopathological features of lung cancer. Methylation-specific PCR showed that the LATS1 promoter region was hypermethylated in 95 out of 119 (79.8%) lung cancers. The methylation status of LATS1 was significantly associated with squamous histology (p=0.0267) and smoking status (never smoker vs. smoker; p=0.0399). LATS1-ummethylated patients harbored more EGFR mutations (p=0.0143). The LATS2 promoter region was hypermethylated in 160 out of 203 (78.8%) lung cancers. However, the methylation status had no association with the clinicopathological characteristics of the lung cancers cases. Both the LATS1 and LATS2 methylation statuses did not correlate with survival of lung cancer patients. Thus, the EGFR methylation status of the LATS genes has limited value in Japanese lung cancers.
hypermethylation; large tumor suppressor gene; lung cancer
The incidence of chromosome 3p gene alterations is one of the most frequent and earliest documented events in lung cancer. This study aimed to investigate promoter methylation in the deleted in lung and esophageal cancer 1 (DLEC1) gene, as well as the p16 and CDH1 genes in Japanese lung cancer cases. The methylation status of the promoter regions of DLEC1, p16 and CDH1 was investigated using methylation-specific PCR. The findings were compared to the clinicopathological features of lung cancer. Methylation-specific PCR showed that the DLEC1 promoter region was methylated in 65 out of 116 (56%) lung cancers. Patients with DLEC1-methylated cancer were associated with a significantly worse prognosis than those with unmethylated cancer (p=0.0368; hazard ratio=1.83). The p16 methylation status correlated with squamous histology (p=0.03) and smoking status (never smoker vs. smoker; p=0.0122). Patients with p16 ummethylated cancer harbored more EGFR mutations (p=0.0071). The CDH1 promoter region was hypermethylated in 65 out of 118 (55.1%) lung cancer cases. However, the CDH1 methylation status was not associated with the clinicopathological characteristics of the lung cancer types. p16 and CDH1 methylation status did not correlate with survival in the lung cancer patients. Thus, in our Japanese cohort, the methylation status of the DLEC1 gene was a marker of poor prognosis independent of stage.
methylation; DLEC1 gene; lung cancer
Triple-negative breast cancer (estrogen receptor-, progesterone receptor-, and HER2-negative) (TNBC) is a high risk breast cancer that lacks specific therapy targeting these proteins.
We studied 969 consecutive Japanese patients diagnosed with invasive breast cancer from January 1981 to December 2003, and selected TNBCs based on the immunohistochemical data. Analyses of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene mutations and amplification, and BRCA1 mRNA expression were performed on these samples using TaqMan PCR assays. The prognostic significance of TNBCs was also explored. Median follow-up was 8.3 years.
A total of 110 (11.3%) patients had TNBCs in our series. Genotyping of the EGFR gene was performed to detect 14 known EGFR mutations, but none was identified. However, EGFR gene copy number was increased in 21% of TNBCs, while only 2% of ER- and PgR-positive, HER2-negative tumors showed slightly increased EGFR gene copy numbers. Thirty-one percent of TNBCs stained positive for EGFR protein by immunohistochemistry. BRCA1 mRNA expression was also decreased in TNBCs compared with controls. Triple negativity was significantly associated with grade 3 tumors, TP53 protein accumulation, and high Ki67 expression. TNBC patients had shorter disease-free survival than non-TNBC in node-negative breast cancers.
TNBCs have an aggressive clinical course, and EGFR and BRCA1 might be candidate therapeutic targets in this disease.
Somatic alterations in cellular DNA underlie almost all human cancers1. The prospect of targeted therapies2 and the development of high-resolution, genome-wide approaches3–8 are now spurring systematic efforts to characterize cancer genomes. Here we report a large-scale project to characterize copy-number alterations in primary lung adenocarcinomas. By analysis of a large collection of tumors (n = 371) using dense single nucleotide polymorphism arrays, we identify a total of 57 significantly recurrent events. We find that 26 of 39 autosomal chromosome arms show consistent large-scale copy-number gain or loss, of which only a handful have been linked to a specific gene. We also identify 31 recurrent focal events, including 24 amplifications and 7 homozygous deletions. Only six of these focal events are currently associated with known mutations in lung carcinomas. The most common event, amplification of chromosome 14q13.3, is found in ~12% of samples. On the basis of genomic and functional analyses, we identify NKX2-1 (NK2 homeobox 1, also called TITF1), which lies in the minimal 14q13.3 amplification interval and encodes a lineage-specific transcription factor, as a novel candidate proto-oncogene involved in a significant fraction of lung adenocarcinomas. More generally, our results indicate that many of the genes that are involved in lung adenocarcinoma remain to be discovered.
Single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in codon 72 of the TP53 (also known as p53) gene (rs1042522) and in the promoter region of the MDM2 gene (SNP309; rs2279744) have been suggested to play roles in many cancers. We investigated whether these SNPs were associated with patient outcome and the effect of adjuvant systemic therapy.
The genotypes of TP53 codon 72 and MDM2 SNP309 were defined among 557 primary Japanese breast cancer patients (median follow-up, 61.7 months). The effects of several variables on survival were tested by Cox's proportional hazards regression analysis.
We showed that the Pro/Pro genotype of TP53 codon 72 was associated with poorer disease-free survival (DFS) than other genotypes by Kaplan-Meier analysis (P = 0.049) and multivariate Cox's proportional hazards regression analysis (P = 0.047, risk ratio of recurrence = 1.67), whereas MDM2 SNP309 status was not associated with DFS. The association of the Pro/Pro TP53 genotype with poorer DFS was especially significant in patients who received adjuvant chemotherapy (P = 0.009). In contrast, among the patients who had received adjuvant hormonal therapy or no adjuvant systemic therapy, TP53 codon 72 genotype was not associated with DFS.
The Pro/Pro genotype of TP53 codon 72 appears to be an independent prognostic marker in breast cancer patients.
β-catenin is a multifunctional protein involved in two apparently independent processes: cell-cell adhesion and signal transduction. β-catenin is involved in Wnt signaling pathway that regulates cellular differentiation and proliferation. In this study, we investigated the expression pattern of β-catenin and cyclin D1 using immunohistochemistry and searched for mutations in exon 3 of the β-catenin gene and Axin gene in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma.
Materials and methods
Samples were obtained from 50 esophageal cancer patients. Immunohistochemical staining for β-catenin and cyclin D1 was done. Mutational analyses of the exon3 of the β-catenin gene and Axin gene were performed on tumors with nuclear β-catenin expression.
Four (8%) esophageal cancer tissues showed high nuclear β-catenin staining. Overexpression of cyclin D1 was observed in 27 out of 50 (54%) patients. All four cases that showed nuclear β-catenin staining overexpressed cyclin D1. No relationship was observed between the expression pattern of β-catenin and cyclin D1 and age, sex, tumor size, stage, differentiation grade, lymph node metastasis, response to chemotherapy, or survival. No mutational change was found in β-catenin exon 3 in the four cases with nuclear β-catenin staining. Sequencing analysis of the Axin cDNA revealed only a splicing variant (108 bp deletion, position 2302–2409) which was present in the paired normal mucosa.
A fraction of esophageal squamous cell carcinomas have abnormal nuclear accumulation of β-catenin accompanied with increased cyclin D1 expression. Mutations in β-catenin or axin genes are not responsible for this abnormal localization of β-catenin.
Endocrine therapy is the most important treatment option for women with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. The potential mechanisms for endocrine resistance involve estrogen receptor (ER)-coregulatory proteins and cross-talk between ER and other growth factor-signaling networks. However, the factors and pathways responsible for endocrine resistance are still poorly identified.
Materials and methods
The expression of HER2, p53, and Ki67 was examined by immunohistochemistry in primary breast tumour specimens from 73 metastatic breast cancer patients who received first-line treatment with endocrine therapy on relapse, and analysed to determine whether expression of these molecular markers affected the response to endocrine therapy.
Of the 73 invasive ductal carcinomas, 12.3%, 21.9%, and 35.6% were positive for HER2 overexpression, p53 protein accumulation, and Ki67 expression, respectively. All patients received endocrine therapy as first-line treatment for metastatic breast cancer; 34 patients (46.6%) responded. Patients with primary breast tumours that had p53 protein accumulation and Ki67 expression showed significantly more resistance to endocrine therapy (P = 0.0049 and P = 0.024, respectively). There were also tendencies for HER2 overexpression to correlate with resistance to endocrine therapy, but this did not reach significance. p53 protein accumulation and HER2 overexpression significantly reduced post-relapse survival (P < 0.0001 and P = 0.001, respectively), and these factors were also statistically significant in a multivariate analysis.
These data suggest that p53 protein accumulation is helpful in selecting patients who may benefit from endocrine therapy and is a prognostic marker in hormone receptor-positive metastatic breast cancer.
Endocrine therapy is the most important treatment option for women with hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. The potential mechanisms for endocrine resistance involve estrogen receptor (ER)-coregulatory proteins and crosstalk between ER and other growth factor signaling networks. However, the factors and pathways responsible for endocrine resistance are still poorly identified.
Using immunohistochemical techniques, we focused on the expression and phosphorylation of hormone receptors themselves and examined the phosphorylation of ER-α Ser118 and ER-α Ser167 and the expression of ER-α, ER-β1, ER-βcx/β2, progesterone receptor (PR), PRA, and PRB in the primary breast carcinomas of 75 patients with metastatic breast cancer who received first-line treatment with endocrine therapy after relapse.
Phosphorylation of ER-α Ser118, but not Ser167, was positively associated with overexpression of HER2, and HER2-positive tumors showed resistance to endocrine therapy. The present study has shown for the first time that phosphorylation of ER-α Ser167, but not Ser118, and expression of PRA and PRB, as well as ER-α and PR in primary breast tumors are predictive of response to endocrine therapy, whereas expression of ER-β1 and ER-βcx/β2 did not affect response to the therapy. In addition, patients with either high phosphorylation of ER-α Ser167, or high expression of ER-α, PR, PRA, or PRB had a significantly longer survival after relapse.
These data suggest that phosphorylation of ER-α Ser167 is helpful in selecting patients who may benefit from endocrine therapy and is a prognostic marker in metastatic breast cancer.