Lung cancer remains one of the leading causes for cancer-related death in developed countries. In lung adenocarcinomas, EGFR mutations and EML4-ALK fusions are associated with response to EGFR and ALK inhibition. By contrast, therapeutically exploitable genetic alterations have been lacking in squamous-cell lung cancer. We conducted a systematic search for alterations that are therapeutically amenable and performed high-resolution gene-copy number analyses in a set of 232 lung cancer specimens. We identified frequent and focal FGFR1 amplification in squamous-cell lung cancer (n=155), but not in other lung cancer subtypes, and confirmed its presence in an independent cohort of squamous-cell lung cancer samples employing FISH (22% of cases). Using cell-based screening with the FGFR inhibitor (PD173074) in a large (n=83) panel of lung cancer cell lines, we demonstrated that this compound inhibited growth (p=0.0002) and induced apoptosis (p=0.008) specifically in those lung cancer cells carrying amplified FGFR1. We validated the dependency on FGFR1 of FGFR1-amplified cell lines by knockdown of FGFR1 and by ectopic expression of a resistance allele of FGFR1 (FGFR1V561M), which rescued FGFR1-amplified cells from PD173074-mediated cytotoxicity. Finally we showed that inhibition of FGFR1 with a small molecule led to significant tumor shrinkage in vivo. Focal FGFR1 amplification is common in squamous-cell lung cancer and associated with tumor growth and survival, suggesting that FGFR inhibitors may be a viable therapeutic option in this cohort of patients.
Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is an incurable malignant disease, which results from chronic exposition to asbestos in at least 70% of the cases. Fibroblast activation protein (FAP) is predominantly expressed on the surface of reactive tumor-associated fibroblasts as well as on particular cancer types. Because of its expression on the cell surface, FAP is an attractive target for adoptive T cell therapy. T cells can be re-directed by retroviral transfer of chimeric antigen receptors (CAR) against tumor-associated antigens (TAA) and therefore represent a therapeutic strategy of adoptive immunotherapy.
To evaluate FAP expression immunohistochemistry was performed in tumor tissue from MPM patients. CD8+ human T cells were retrovirally transduced with an anti-FAP-F19-∆CD28/CD3ζ-CAR. T cell function was evaluated in vitro by cytokine release and cytotoxicity assays. In vivo function was tested with an intraperitoneal xenograft tumor model in immunodeficient mice.
FAP was found to be expressed in all subtypes of MPM. Additionally, FAP expression was evaluated in healthy adult tissue samples and was only detected in specific areas in the pancreas, the placenta and very weakly for cervix and uterus. Expression of the anti-FAP-F19-∆CD28/CD3ζ-CAR in CD8+ T cells resulted in antigen-specific IFNγ release. Additionally, FAP-specific re-directed T cells lysed FAP positive mesothelioma cells and inflammatory fibroblasts in an antigen-specific manner in vitro. Furthermore, FAP-specific re-directed T cells inhibited the growth of FAP positive human tumor cells in the peritoneal cavity of mice and significantly prolonged survival of mice.
FAP re-directed CD8+ T cells showed antigen-specific functionality in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, FAP expression was verified in all MPM histotypes. Therefore, our data support performing a phase I clinical trial in which MPM patients are treated with adoptively transferred FAP-specific re-directed T cells.
Asbestos is the main cause of MPM in industrialized countries. Even since asbestos is banned in most developed countries, the peak wave of MPM incidence is anticipated for the next years due to the long latency of asbestos induced MPM. MPM patients not eligible for surgical procedures like decortication or pleuro-pneumectomie have a median survival of 12 months with palliative chemotherapy. Therefore, new therapeutic approaches are of crucial need in this clinical situation.
This is a phase I trial for patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma with pleural effusion testing the safety of a fixed single dose of 1x106 adoptively transferred FAP-specific re-directed T cells given directly in the pleural effusion. Lymphocytes will be taken 21 days before transfer from peripheral blood. CD8 positive T cells will be isolated and re-programmed by retroviral transfer of a chimeric antigen receptor recognizing FAP which serves as target structure in MPM. At day 0 of the protocol, re-directed T cells will be injected in the pleural effusion and patients will be monitored for 48h under intermediate care conditions. AE, SAE, SADR and SUSAR will be monitored for 35 days and evaluated by an independent safety board to define any dose limiting toxicity (DLT). No further patient can be treated before the previous patient passed day 14 after T cell transfer. The protocol will be judged as save when no DLT occurred in the first 3 patients, or 1 DLT in 6 patients. Secondary objectives are feasibility and immune monitoring.
Adoptive T cell transfer is a new and rapidly expanding branch of immunotherapies focusing on cancer treatment. Recently, objective responses could be observed in patients with chronic lymphatic leukemia treated with adoptively transferred CD19-specific re-directed T cells. The choice of the target antigen determines the possible on-target off-tissue toxicity of such approaches. There are reports of severe toxicity in patients who received T cells intravenously due to unexpected expression of the target antigen (on-target) in other tissues than the tumor (off-tissue). To minimize the risk of on-target off-tissue toxicity and to maximize the on-target anti-tumor effect we propose a clinical protocol with loco-regional administration of re-directed T cells. FAP-specific T cells will be directly injected in the pleural effusion of patients with MPM.
Tumor hypoxia is one of the most important parameters that determines treatment sensitivity and is mainly due to insufficient tumor angiogenesis. However, the local oxygen concentration in a tumor can also be shifted in response to different treatment modalities such as cytotoxic agents or ionizing radiation. Thus, combined treatment modalities including microtubule stabilizing agents could create an additional challenge for an effective treatment response due to treatment-induced shifts in tumor oxygenation. Tumor hypoxia was probed over a prolonged observation period in response to treatment with different cytotoxic agents, using a non-invasive bioluminescent ODD-Luc reporter system, in which part of the oxygen-dependent degradation (ODD) domain of HIF-1α is fused to luciferase. As demonstrated in vitro, this system not only detects hypoxia at an ambient oxygen concentration of 1% O2, but also discriminates low oxygen concentrations in the range from 0.2 to 1% O2. Treatment of A549 lung adenocarcinoma-derived tumor xenografts with the microtubule stabilizing agent patupilone resulted in a prolonged increase in tumor hypoxia, which could be used as marker for its antitumoral treatment response, while irradiation did not induce detectable changes in tumor hypoxia. Furthermore, despite patupilone-induced hypoxia, the potency of ionizing radiation (IR) was not reduced as part of a concomitant or adjuvant combined treatment modality.
While genomically targeted therapies have improved outcomes for patients with lung adenocarcinoma, little is known about the genomic alterations which drive squamous cell lung cancer. Sanger sequencing of the tyrosine kinome identified mutations in the DDR2 kinase gene in 3.8% of squamous cell lung cancers and cell lines. Squamous lung cancer cell lines harboring DDR2 mutations were selectively killed by knock-down of DDR2 by RNAi or by treatment with the multi-targeted kinase inhibitor dasatinib. Tumors established from a DDR2 mutant cell line were sensitive to dasatinib in xenograft models. Expression of mutated DDR2 led to cellular transformation which was blocked by dasatinib. A squamous cell lung cancer patient with a response to dasatinib and erlotinib treatment harbored a DDR2 kinase domain mutation. These data suggest that gain-of-function mutations in DDR2 are important oncogenic events and are amenable to therapy with dasatinib. As dasatinib is already approved for use, these findings could be rapidly translated into clinical trials.
Squamous cell lung cancer; DDR2; dasatinib; tyrosine kinase inhibitors; lung cancer genomics
Several stromal cell subtypes including macrophages contribute to tumor progression by inducing epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) at the invasive front, a mechanism also linked to metastasis. Tumor associated macrophages (TAM) reside mainly at the invasive front but they also infiltrate tumors and in this process they mainly assume a tumor promoting phenotype. In this study, we asked if TAMs also regulate EMT intratumorally. We found that TAMs through TGF-β signaling and activation of the β-catenin pathway can induce EMT in intratumoral cancer cells.
We depleted macrophages in F9-teratocarcinoma bearing mice using clodronate-liposomes and analyzed the tumors for correlations between gene and protein expression of EMT-associated and macrophage markers. The functional relationship between TAMs and EMT was characterized in vitro in the murine F9 and mammary gland NMuMG cells, using a conditioned medium culture approach. The clinical relevance of our findings was evaluated on a tissue microarray cohort representing 491 patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
Gene expression analysis of F9-teratocarcinomas revealed a positive correlation between TAM-densities and mesenchymal marker expression. Moreover, immunohistochemistry showed that TAMs cluster with EMT phenotype cells in the tumors. In vitro, long term exposure of F9-and NMuMG-cells to macrophage-conditioned medium led to decreased expression of the epithelial adhesion protein E-cadherin, activation of the EMT-mediating β-catenin pathway, increased expression of mesenchymal markers and an invasive phenotype. In a candidate based screen, macrophage-derived TGF-β was identified as the main inducer of this EMT-associated phenotype. Lastly, immunohistochemical analysis of NSCLC patient samples identified a positive correlation between intratumoral macrophage densities, EMT markers, intraepithelial TGF-β levels and tumor grade.
Data presented here identify a novel role for macrophages in EMT-promoted tumor progression. The observation that TAMs cluster with intra-epithelial fibroblastoid cells suggests that the role of macrophages in tumor-EMT extends beyond the invasive front. As macrophage infiltration and pronounced EMT tumor phenotype correlate with increased grade in NSCLC patients, we propose that TAMs also promote tumor progression by inducing EMT locally in tumors.
Tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs); Macrophage depletion; Clodronate liposomes; Tumor progression; Tumor invasion; Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT); TGF-β
Deciduoid mesothelioma is a rare variant of the epithelioid histotype spectrum, resembling decidua of gravid uterus. It is found in the peritoneum of young women, but also in the pleura of elderly people. Histotype plasticity from epithelioid to sarcomatoid mesothelioma may be considered as epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). A full autopsy was performed and mesothelioma infiltrates were analysed by immunohistochemistry. The metastasis of an epithelioid pleural mesothelioma to a hyperplastic polyp of the stomach is presented in this autopsy case. Deciduoid morphology increased during tumour progression and metastasis. The increase in eosinophilic cytoplasm correlated with the upregulation of the intermediate filament vimentin. High expression of vimentin was found in both central and superficial periglandular regions of the polyp. High vimentin expression also can occur in epithelioid rather than sarcomatoid differentiation. Thus, although vimentin is considered to be the major EMT marker, additional pathways must regulate its expression.
Mesothelioma; deciduoid; hyperplastic polyp; epithelial-mesenchymal transition; vimentin.
The L1 cell adhesion molecule (L1CAM) is potentially involved in epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). EMT marker expression is of prognostic significance in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The relevance of L1CAM for NSCLC is unclear. We investigated the protein expression of L1CAM in a cohort of NSCLC patients. L1CAM protein expression was correlated with clinico-pathological parameters including survival and markers of epithelial-mesenchymal transition.
L1CAM protein expression was found in 25% of squamous cell carcinomas and 24% of adenocarcinomas and correlated with blood vessel invasion and metastasis (p < 0.05). L1CAM was an independent predictor of survival in a multivariate analysis including pT, pN, and pM category, and tumor differentiation grade. L1CAM expression positively correlated with vimentin, beta-catenin, and slug, but inversely with E-cadherin (all p-values < 0.05). E-cadherin expression was higher in the tumor center than in the tumor periphery, whereas L1CAM and vimentin were expressed at the tumor-stroma interface. In L1CAM-negative A549 cells the L1CAM expression was upregulated and matrigel invasion was increased after stimulation with TGF-beta1. In L1CAM-positive SK-LU-1 and SK-LC-LL cells matrigel invasion was decreased after L1CAM siRNA knockdown.
A subset of NSCLCs with vessel tropism and increased metastasis aberrantly expresses L1CAM. L1CAM is a novel prognostic marker for NSCLCs that is upregulated by EMT induction and appears to be instrumental for enhanced cell invasion.
L1 cell adhesion molecule; epithelial-mesenchymal transition; tumor-stroma interface; prognostic marker; non-small cell lung cancer; tissue microarray
The excision repair cross-complementation group 1 (ERCC1) protein is the key enzyme of the nucleotide excision repair (NER) pathway. Loss of protein expression on immunohistochemistry is predictive for platinum-based chemotherapy response. Frequently, the diagnosis of malignancy is made on cytologic effusion samples. Therefore, we evaluated the staining quality of monoclonal anti-ERCC1 antibodies 8F1 and D-10 on microarrays of malignant pleural and peritoneal effusions by automated immunochemistry.
Cores from effusion cell blocks of 117 patients with > 40 malignant cell clusters per whole section (pleural n = 75, peritoneal n = 42) were assembled together with 30 histologic control cores from large tissue blocks (lung, breast and ovarian carcinoma, each n = 10) on hybrid cytology-tissue microarrays (C/TMA). Four immunochemistry protocols (Mab 8F1 and D-10, CC1-mono Ventana and H2-60 Bond automat) were performed. Immunoreactivity was semi-quantitatively scored for intensity and intensity multiplied by percentage staining (H-score).
Tumors were classified into female genital tract carcinoma (n = 39), lung adenocarcinoma (n = 23), mesothelioma (n = 15), unknown primary (n = 14), breast carcinoma (n = 10), gastro-intestinal carcinoma (n = 12) and other (n = 4). On both platforms, reproducible nuclear ERCC1 immunoreactivity was achieved with both antibodies, although D-10 was slightly weaker and presented more background staining as well as more variation in the low expression range. No significant differences were found between cytologic and histologic cores. Using the 8F1 CC1-mono protocol, lung and breast carcinomas had lower ERCC1 expression in comparison to the other entities (p-value < 0.05).
Cytology microarrays (CMA) are suitable for investigation of clinical biomarkers and can be combined with conventional TMA's. Dichotomization of ERCC1 immunoreactivity scores is most suitable for patient stratification since definition of negativity is antibody-dependent.
Prognostic factors in predicting occult lymph node metastasis in patients with head and neck squamous-cell carcinoma (HNSCC) are necessary to improve the results of the sentinel lymph node procedure in this tumour type. The E-Cadherin glycoprotein is an intercellular adhesion molecule in epithelial cells, which plays an important role in establishing and maintaining intercellular connections.
To determine the value of the molecular marker E-Cadherin in predicting regional metastatic disease.
E-Cadherin expression in tumour tissue of 120 patients with HNSCC of the oral cavity and oropharynx were evaluated using the tissue microarray technique. 110 tumours were located in the oral cavity (91.7%; mostly tongue), 10 tumours in the oropharynx (8.3%). Intensity of E-Cadherin expression was quantified by the Intensity Reactivity Score (IRS). These results were correlated with the lymph node status of biopsied sentinel lymph nodes. Univariate and multivariate analysis was used to determine statistical significance.
pT-stage, gender, tumour side and location did not correlate with lymph node metastasis. Differentiation grade (p = 0.018) and down regulation of E-Cadherin expression significantly correlate with positive lymph node status (p = 0.005) in univariate and multivariate analysis.
These data suggest that loss of E-cadherin expression is associated with increased lymhogeneous metastasis of HNSCC. E-cadherin immunohistochemistry may be used as a predictor for lymph node metastasis in squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity and oropharynx.
Level of evidence: 2b
Head and Neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC); oral cavity; oropharynx; E-Cadherin (ECAD); Immunohistochemistry; Sentinel node biopsy
Expression of periostin is an indicator of epithelial-mesenchymal transition in cancer but a detailed analysis of periostin expression in prostate cancer has not been conducted so far.
Here, we evaluated periostin expression in prostate cancer cells and peritumoural stroma immunohistochemically in two independent prostate cancer cohorts, including a training cohort (n = 93) and a test cohort (n = 325). Metastatic prostate cancers (n = 20), hormone refractory prostate cancers (n = 19) and benign prostatic tissues (n = 38) were also analyzed.
In total, strong epithelial periostin expression was detectable in 142 of 418 (34.0%) of prostate carcinomas and in 11 of 38 benign prostate glands (28.9%). Increased periostin expression in carcinoma cells was significantly associated with high Gleason score (p < 0.01) and advanced tumour stage (p < 0.05) in the test cohort. Whereas periostin expression was weak or absent in the stroma around normal prostate glands, strong periostin expression in tumour stroma was found in most primary and metastatic prostate cancers. High stromal periostin expression was associated with higher Gleason scores (p < 0.001). There was a relationship between stromal periostin expression and shortened PSA relapse free survival times in the training cohort (p < 0.05).
Our data indicate that periostin up-regulation is related to increased tumour aggressiveness in prostate cancer and might be a promising target for therapeutical interventions in primary and metastatic prostate cancer.
Laser-capture microdissection (LCM) enables the selection of a specific and pure cell population from a heterogenous tissue such as tumors. Activity-based protein profiling/profile (ABPP) is a chemical technology using enzyme-specific active site-directed probes to read out the functional state of many enzymes directly in any proteome. The aim of this work was to assess the compatibility of LCM with downstream ABPP for serine hydrolase (SH) in human lung adenocarcinoma. Fresh frozen lung adenocarcinoma tissue was stained with hematoxylin, toluidine blue, or methyl green (MG). Proteome from stained tissue was labeled further with SH-directed probes, and ABPPs were determined on a one-dimensional gel-based approach. This allowed us to assess the impact of staining procedures on their ABPPs. The effect of the LCM process on ABPPs was assessed furthermore using MG-stained lung adenocarcinoma tissue. The staining procedures led to strong changes in ABPPs. However, MG staining seemed the most compatible with downstream ABPP. MG-stained, laser-captured, microdissected tissue showed additional change in profiles as a result of the denaturing property of extraction buffer but not to the microdissection process itself. LCM staining procedures but not microdissection per se interfered with downstream ABPP and led to a strong change in ABPPs of SHs in human lung adenocarcinoma.
Caveolin-1 is a regulator of both intracellular calcium homeostasis and endothelial nitric oxide synthase and may play a pathogenetic role in pulmonary hypertension. In the present study, we aimed to investigate the correlations between pulmonary hemodynamics and vessel morphology including the expression of Caveolin-1 in pulmonary arterioles from patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who underwent lung-volume reduction surgery. Staining and subsequent analysis was performed on paraffin-embedded lung tissue from COPD patients (n = 12). Pulmonary arteries with an external diameter of 100-500µm were analysed. Immunhistochemistry with antibodies against caveolin-1 was performed and intensity was assessed. Morphometric data were obtained by using computer-assisted imaging software. The findings were quantified and correlated to hemodynamic data obtained by right-heart catheterization. In COPD patients with pulmonary hypertension (n = 5), the expression of caveolin-1 within the medial smooth muscle cell layer was found to be increased, whereas the intimal caveolin-1 was more prominently expressed in COPD patients with normal pulmonary pressures (n = 7). The ratio between these expression patterns was positively correlated to the mean pulmonary artery pressure. Similar findings were observed for the ratio between intimal and medial thickness as well as for the expression of smooth muscle actin (SMA).
Taken together, the expression of caveolin-1 within medial smooth muscle cells of pulmonary arteries in patients with COPD is associated with pulmonary hypertension. Our results thus emphasize a potential novel player in the pathogenesis of COPD-associated pulmonary hypertension.
Caveolin-1; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); morphometry; pulmonary hypertension.
A recurrent gene fusion between EML4 and ALK in 6.7% of non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) and NKX2-1 (TTF1, TITF1) high-level amplifications in 12% of adenocarcinomas of the lung were independently reported recently. Because the EML4-ALK fusion was only shown by a reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction approach, we developed fluorescent in situ hybridization assays to interrogate more than 600 NSCLCs using break-apart probes for EML4 and ALK. We found that EML4-ALK fusions occur in less than 3% of NSCLC samples and that EML4 and/or ALK amplifications also occur. We also observed that, in most cases in which an EML4/ALK alteration is detected, not all of the tumor cells harbor the lesion. By using a detailed multi-fluorescent in situ hybridization probe assay and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, we have evidence that other, more common mechanisms besides gene inversion exist including the possibility of other fusion partners for ALK and EML4. Furthermore, we confirmed the NKX2-1 high-level amplification in a significant subset of NSCLC and found this amplification to be mutually exclusive to ALK and EML4 rearrangements.