Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK signaling is critical for tumor cell proliferation and survival. Selumetinib is a potent, selective, and orally available MEK1/2 inhibitor. In the current study, we evaluated the therapeutic efficacy of selumetinib alone or with cediranib, an orally available potent inhibitor of all three VEGFR tyrosine kinases, in murine orthotopic NSCLC models.
NCI-H441 or NCI-H460 KRAS-mutant human NSCLC cells were injected into the lungs of mice. Mice were randomly assigned to treatment with selumetinib, cediranib, paclitaxel, selumetinib plus cediranib, or control. When controls became moribund, all animals were sacrificed and assessed for lung tumor burden and locoregional metastasis. Lung tumors and adjacent normal tissues were subjected to immunohistochemical analyses.
Selumetinib inhibited lung tumor growth and, particularly at higher dose, reduced locoregional metastasis, as did cediranib. Combining selumetinib and cediranib markedly enhanced their antitumor effects, with near complete suppression of metastasis. Immunohistochemistry of tumor tissues revealed that selumetinib alone or with cediranib reduced ERK phosphorylation, angiogenesis, and tumor cell proliferation and increased apoptosis. The antiangiogenic and apoptotic effects were substantially enhanced when the agents were combined. Selumetinib also inhibited lung tumor VEGF production and VEGFR signaling.
In the current study, we evaluated therapy directed against MEK combined with antiangiogenic therapy in distinct orthotopic NSCLC models. MEK inhibition resulted in potent antiangiogenic effects with decreased VEGF expression and signaling. Combining selumetinib with cediranib enhanced their anti-tumor and antiangiogenic effects. We conclude that combining selumetinib and cediranib represents a promising strategy for the treatment of NSCLC.
angiogenesis; selumetinib; cediranib; lung cancer; VEGF; MEK
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.
Mutations in the v-Ki-ras2 Kirsten rat sarcoma viral oncogene homolog (KRAS) play a critical role in cancer cell growth and resistance to therapy. Most mutations occur at codons 12 and 13. In colorectal cancer, the presence of any mutant KRas amino acid substitution is a negative predictor of patient response to targeted therapy. However, in non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), the evidence that KRAS mutation is a predictive factor is conflicting.
We used data from a molecularly targeted clinical trial for 215 patients with tissues available out of 268 evaluable patients with refractory NSCLC to examine associations between specific mutant KRas proteins and progression-free survival and tumor gene expression. Transcriptome microarray studies of patient tumor samples and reverse-phase protein array studies of a panel of 67 NSCLC cell lines with known substitutions in KRas and in immortalized human bronchial epithelial cells stably expressing different mutant KRas proteins were used to investigate signaling pathway activation. Molecular modeling was used to study the conformations of wild-type and mutant KRas proteins. Kaplan–Meier curves and Cox regression were used to analyze survival data. All statistical tests were two-sided.
Patients whose tumors had either mutant KRas-Gly12Cys or mutant KRas-Gly12Val had worse progression-free survival compared with patients whose tumors had other mutant KRas proteins or wild-type KRas (P = .046, median survival = 1.84 months) compared with all other mutant KRas (median survival = 3.35 months) or wild-type KRas (median survival = 1.95 months). NSCLC cell lines with mutant KRas-Gly12Asp had activated phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI-3-K) and mitogen-activated protein/extracellular signal-regulated kinase kinase (MEK) signaling, whereas those with mutant KRas-Gly12Cys or mutant KRas-Gly12Val had activated Ral signaling and decreased growth factor–dependent Akt activation. Molecular modeling studies showed that different conformations imposed by mutant KRas may lead to altered association with downstream signaling transducers.
Not all mutant KRas proteins affect patient survival or downstream signaling in a similar way. The heterogeneous behavior of mutant KRas proteins implies that therapeutic interventions may need to take into account the specific mutant KRas expressed by the tumor.
We evaluated the ability of histopathologic response criteria to predict overall survival (OS) and disease-free survival (DFS) in patients with surgically resected non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) treated with or without neoadjuvant chemotherapy.
Tissue specimens from 358 patients with NSCLC were evaluated by pathologists blinded to the patient treatment and outcome. The surgical specimens were reviewed for various histopathologic features in the tumor including percentage of residual viable tumor cells, necrosis, and fibrosis. The relationship between the histopathologic findings and OS was assessed.
The percentage of residual viable tumor cells and surgical pathologic stage were associated with OS and DFS in 192 patients with NSCLC receiving neoadjuvant chemotherapy in multivariate analysis (p = 0.005 and p = 0.01, respectively). There was no association of OS or DFS with percentage of viable tumor cells in 166 patients with NSCLC who did not receive neoadjuvant chemotherapy (p = 0.31 and p = 0.45, respectively). Long-term OS and DFS were significantly prolonged in patients who had ≤10% viable tumor compared with patients with >10% viable tumor cells (5 years OS, 85% versus 40%, p < 0.0001 and 5 years DFS, 78% versus 35%, p < 0.001).
The percentages of residual viable tumor cells predict OS and DFS in patients with resected NSCLC after neoadjuvant chemotherapy even when controlled for pathologic stage. Histopathologic assessment of resected specimens after neoadjuvant chemotherapy could potentially have a role in addition to pathologic stage in assessing prognosis, chemotherapy response, and the need for additional adjuvant therapies.
Lung cancer; Neoadjuvant chemotherapy; Histopathology
The requirement of frozen tissues for microarray experiments limits the clinical usage of genome-wide expression profiling using microarray technology. The goal of this study is to test the feasibility of developing lung cancer prognosis gene signatures using genome-wide expression profiling of formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) samples, which are widely available and provide a valuable rich source for studying the association of molecular changes in cancer and associated clinical outcomes.
We randomly selected 100 Non-Small-Cell lung cancer (NSCLC) FFPE samples with annotated clinical information from the UT-Lung SPORE Tissue Bank. We micro dissected tumor area from FFPE specimens, and used Affymetrix U133 plus 2.0 arrays to attain gene expression data. After strict quality control and analysis procedures, a supervised principal component analysis was used to develop a robust prognosis signature for NSCLC. Three independent published microarray data sets were used to validate the prognosis model.
This study demonstrated that the robust gene signature derived from genome-wide expression profiling of FFPE samples is strongly associated with lung cancer clinical outcomes, can be used to refine the prognosis for stage I lung cancer patients and the prognostic signature is independent of clinical variables. This signature was validated in several independent studies and was refined to a 59-gene lung cancer prognosis signature.
We conclude that genome-wide profiling of FFPE lung cancer samples can identify a set of genes whose expression level provides prognostic information across different platforms and studies, which will allow its application in clinical settings.
Lung Cancer Prognosis; Gene Expression Signature; Formalin Fixed Paraffin Embedded Samples
Activating enhancer-binding protein-2β (AP2β) is a transcription factor involved in apoptosis. The purpose of the current study was to assess the cellular location and level of AP2β in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) and normal lung tissue and investigate whether the level and localization of AP2β expression is predictive of overall survival in patients with stage I NSCLC.
We performed immunohistochemical analysis of tissue microarrays (TMAs) prepared from stage I NSCLC specimens with adjacent normal lung tissue from two independent sets of patients who underwent lung resection with curative intent at our institution. AP2β intensity was assessed in TMAs, and AP2β staining patterns were classified as either diffuseor nucleolar in the TMAs. AP2β intensity and localization were analyzed for correlation with patients' survival.
Immunohistochemical analysis of TMAs showed that the intensity of AP2β immunohistochemical staining did not correlate with overall survival. When location of AP2β was analyzed in TMAs, all of the normal lung tissue had diffuse pattern of AP2β. In the first set of NSCLC, patients with nucleolar pattern had a significantly lower 5-year survival rate than patients with diffuse pattern (67% vs. 100%; P = 0.004); this finding was confirmed in the second set (64% vs. 91%; P = 0.02). Multivariate analysis revealed that nucleolar pattern was an independent predictor of poor overall survival in both sets.
The AP2β which is located in the nucleoplasm in normal lung tissue is found in either nucleoplasm or nucleoli in NSCLC. The patients with AP2β in the nucleoli had poor survival compared to patients with AP2β in the cytoplasm.
Lung cancer biology; survival analysis
Lung carcinogenesis is a complex, stepwise process that involves the acquisition of genetic mutations and epigenetic changes that alter cellular processes, such as proliferation, differentiation, invasion, and metastasis. Here, we review some of the latest concepts in the pathogenesis of lung cancer and highlight the roles of inflammation, the “field of cancerization,” and lung cancer stem cells in the initiation of the disease. Furthermore, we review how high throughput genomics, transcriptomics, epigenomics, and proteomics are advancing the study of lung carcinogenesis. Finally, we reflect on the potential of current in vitro and in vivo models of lung carcinogenesis to advance the field and on the areas of investigation where major breakthroughs will lead to the identification of novel chemoprevention strategies and therapies for lung cancer.
Field of cancerization; inflammation; stem cells; genomics; epigenomics; proteomics
Agents can enter clinical development for cancer prevention either initially or after previous development for a different indication, such as arthritis, with both approaches consuming many years of development before an agent is fully evaluated for cancer prevention. We propose the following, third approach: Reverse migration, that is, importing agents, targets and study designs to personalize interventions, and concepts developed in advanced cancer to the setting of cancer prevention. Importing these “ready-made” features from therapy will allow reverse migration to streamline preventive-agent development. We recently reported the Biomarker-integrated Approaches of Targeted Therapy for Lung Cancer Elimination (BATTLE) trial of personalized lung-cancer therapy and now propose the reverse-migration development of personalized lung-cancer prevention based on the BATTLE model.
chemoprevention; personalized; targeted; lung cancer
Lung cancer continues to be a major deadly malignancy. The mortality of this disease could be reduced by improving the ability to predict cancer patients' survival. We hypothesized that genes differentially expressed among cells constituting an in vitro human lung carcinogenesis model consisting of normal, immortalized, transformed, and tumorigenic bronchial epithelial cells are relevant to the clinical outcome of non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Multidimensional scaling, microarray, and functional pathways analyses of the transcriptomes of the above cells were done and combined with integrative genomics to incorporate the microarray data with published NSCLC data sets. Up-regulated (n = 301) and down-regulated genes (n = 358) displayed expression level variation across the in vitro model with progressive changes in cancer-related molecular functions. A subset of these genes (n = 584) separated lung adenocarcinoma clinical samples (n = 361) into two clusters with significant survival differences. Six genes, UBE2C, TPX2, MCM2, MCM6, FEN1, and SFN, selected by functional array analysis, were also effective in prognosis. The mRNA and protein levels of one these genes—UBE2C—were significantly up-regulated in NSCLC tissue relative to normal lung and increased progressively in lung lesions. Moreover, stage I NSCLC patients with positive UBE2C expression exhibited significantly poorer overall and progression-free survival than patients with negative expression. Our studies with this in vitro model have lead to the identification of a robust six-gene signature, which may be valuable for predicting the survival of lung adenocarcinoma patients. Moreover, one of those genes, UBE2C, seems to be a powerful biomarker for NSCLC survival prediction.
Detection of lung cancer at early stages could potentially increase survival rates. One promising approach is the application of suitable lung cancer-specific biomarkers to specimens obtained by non-invasive methods. Thus far, clinically useful biomarkers that have high sensitivity have proven elusive. Certain genes, which are involved in cellular pathways such as signal transduction, apoptosis, cell to cell communication, cell cycles and cytokine signaling are down-regulated in cancers and may be considered as potential tumor suppressor genes. Aberrant promoter hypermethylation is a major mechanism for silencing tumor suppressor genes in many kinds of human cancers. Using quantitative real time PCR, we tested 11 genes (3-OST-2, RASSF1A, DcR1, DcR2, P16, DAPK, APC, ECAD, HCAD, SOCS1, SOCS3) for levels of methylation within their promoter sequences in non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC), adjacent non-malignant lung tissues, in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from cancer free patients, in sputum of cancer patients and controls. Of all the 11 genes tested 3-OST-2 showed the highest levels of promoter methylation in tumors combined with lowest levels of promoter methylation in control tissues. 3-OST-2 followed by, RASSF1A showed increased levels of methylation with advanced tumor stage (P<0.05). Thus, quantitative analysis of 3-OST-2 and RASSF1A methylation appears to be a promising biomarker assay for NSCLC and should be further explored in a clinical study. Our preliminary data on the analysis of sputum DNA specimens from cancer patients further support these observations.
Real time PCR; Tumor suppressor gene; Non-small cell lung cancer
Non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells with activating epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) somatic mutations have unique biological properties, including high expression of the ErbB ligand epiregulin; however, the biological role of epiregulin in these cells has not been elucidated. To examine its role, we used an immunohistochemical approach to detect epiregulin expression in NSCLC biopsy samples and pharmacologic and genetic approaches to inhibit epiregulin in cultured NSCLC cells. In NSCLC biopsy samples, epiregulin was detected in 237 of 366 (64.7%) tumors, which correlated with nodal metastasis and a shorter duration of survival. In EGFR-mutant NSCLC cell lines, treatment with a small-molecule EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor diminished mRNA levels of the gene encoding epiregulin (EREG). The ability of EGFR-mutant NSCLC cells to invade through Matrigel in vitro was inhibited by treatment with an anti-epiregulin neutralizing antibody or by transfection with an EREG short hairpin RNA. Collectively, these findings show that epiregulin expression correlated with advanced disease, was EGFR dependent, and conferred invasive properties on NSCLC cells. Additional studies are warranted in NSCLC patients to evaluate whether epiregulin expression predicts the metastatic potential of primary tumors and whether anti-epiregulin treatment strategies are efficacious in the prevention of metastasis.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death. Despite a number of studies that have provided prognostic biomarkers for lung cancer, a paucity of reliable markers and therapeutic targets exist to diagnose and treat this aggressive disease. In this study we investigated the potential of nuclear receptors (NRs), many of which are well-established drug targets, as therapeutic markers in lung cancer. Using quantitative real-time PCR, we analyzed the expression of the 48 members of the NR superfamily in a human panel of 55 normal and lung cancer cell lines. Unsupervised cluster analysis of the NR expression profile segregated normal from tumor cell lines and grouped lung cancers according to type (i.e. small vs. non-small cell lung cancers). Moreover, we found that the NR signature was 79% accurate in diagnosing lung cancer incidence in smokers (n = 129). Finally, the evaluation of a subset of NRs (androgen receptor, estrogen receptor, vitamin D receptor, and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ) demonstrated the therapeutic potential of using NR expression to predict ligand-dependent growth responses in individual lung cancer cells. Preclinical evaluation of one of these receptors (peroxisome proliferator activated receptor-γ) in mouse xenografts confirmed that ligand-dependent inhibitory growth responses in lung cancer can be predicted based on a tumor's receptor expression status. Taken together, this study establishes NRs as theragnostic markers for predicting lung cancer incidence and further strengthens their potential as therapeutic targets for individualized treatment.
To compare the characteristics of HER receptors and their ligands deregulation between primary tumor and corresponding brain metastases of non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC).
Fifty five NSCLC primary tumors (PT) and corresponding brain metastases (BM) specimens were examined for the immunohistochemical expression of EGFR, phosphorylated (p)–EGFR, Her2, Her3, and p-Her3, and their ligands EGF, TGF-α, amphiregulin, epiregulin, betacellulin, heparin-binding EGFR-like growth factor, and neuregulins-1 and -2. Analysis of EGFR copy number using fluorescent in situ hybridization and mutation by PCR-based sequencing was also performed.
Metastases showed significantly higher immunohistochemical expression of EGF (membrane, BM 66.0 vs. PT 48.5; P=0.027; and nucleus, BM 92.2 vs. 67.4; P=0.008), amphiregulin (nucleus, BM 53.7 vs. PT 33.7; P=0.019), p-EGFR (membrane, BM 161.5 vs. PT 76.0; P<0.0001; and cytoplasm, BM 101.5 vs. PT 55.9; P=0.014), and p-Her3 (membrane, BM 25.0 vs. PT 3.7; P=0.001) than primary tumors (PT) did. Primary tumors showed significantly higher expression of cytoplasmic TGF–α (PT 149.8 vs. BM 111.3; P=0.008) and neuregulin-1 (PT 158.5 vs. BM 122.8; P=0.006). In adenocarcinomas, a similar high frequency of EGFR copy number gain (high polysomy and amplification) was detected in primary (65%) and brain metastasis (63%) sites. However, adenocarcinoma metastases (30%) showed higher frequency of EGFR amplification than corresponding primary tumors (10%). Patients whose primary tumors showed EGFR amplification tended to develop brain metastases at an earlier time points.
Our findings suggest that NSCLC brain metastases have some significant differences in HER family receptors-related abnormalities from primary lung tumors.
Lung adenocarcinoma is histologically heterogeneous and has 5 distinct histologic growth patterns: lepidic, acinar, papillary, micropapillary, and solid. To date, there is no consensus regarding the clinical utility of these patterns.
The authors performed a detailed semiquantitative assessment of histologic patterns of 240 lung adenocarcinomas and determined the association with patients’ clinicopathologic features, including recurrence-free survival (RFS) and overall survival (OS) rates. In a subset of tumors, expression levels of 2 prognostic molecular markers were evaluated: thyroid transcription factor-1 (TTF-1) (n = 218) and a panel of 5 proteins (referred as the FILM signature index) (n = 185).
Four mutually exclusive tumor histology pattern groups were identified: 1) any solid (38%), 2) any papillary but no solid (14%), 3) lepidic and acinar but no solid or papillary (30%), and 4) acinar only (18%). Patients in group 3 had a higher RFS rate than patients in group 1 (hazard ratio [HR], 0.4510; P = .0165) and group 2 (HR, 0.4253; P = .0425). Solid pattern tumors (group 1) were associated with a lower OS rate than nonsolid pattern tumors (all stages: HR; 1.665; P = .0144; stages I and II: HR, 2.157; P = .008). In the patients who had tumors with a nonsolid pattern, high TTF-1 expression was associated significantly with higher RFS (HR, 0.994; P = .0017) and OS (HR, 0.996; P = .0276) rates in all stages, and a high FILM signature index score was associated with lower RFS and OS rates in all stages (RFS: HR, 1.343; P = .0192; OS: HR, 1.371; P = .0156) and in stages I and II (RFS: HR, 1.419; P = .0095; OS: HR, 1.315; P = .0422).
The presence of a solid histologic pattern was identified as a marker of unfavorable prognosis in patients with primary lung adenocarcinoma. High TTF-1 expression and low FILM signature index scores were associated with a better prognosis for patients who had tumors with a nonsolid pattern.
histologic patterns; lung adenocarcinoma; thyroid transcription factor 1; prognostic signature
To identify the characteristics and sequence of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) abnormalities relevant to the pathogenesis and progression of lung adenocarcinoma, we performed a precise mapping analysis of EGFR mutation, gene copy number and total and phosphorylated EGFR (pEGFR) protein expression for the same tissue sites. We examined normal bronchial and bronchiolar epithelium (NBE) and tumor tissues obtained from 50 formalin-fixed lung adenocarcinomas, including 24 EGFR-mutant primary tumors with nine corresponding lymph node metastases and 26 wild-type primary tumors. NBE in 12/24 (50%) mutant and 3/26 (12%) wild-type tumors harbored EGFR mutation; these NBE also showed lack of EGFR copy number increase and frequent EGFR (69%) and pEGFR (33%) overexpression. EGFR mutation and protein overexpression were more frequent in NBE sites within tumors than in NBE sites adjacent to and distant from tumors, suggesting a localized field effect. Sites with high and low EGFR copy numbers were heterogeneously distributed in six of nine primary tumors and one of eight metastases. EGFR protein overexpression was significantly higher in metastasis sites than in primary tumors. We conclude from our findings that EGFR mutations and protein overexpression are early phenomena in the pathogenesis of lung adenocarcinoma and that EGFR mutation precedes an increase in gene copy number. In EGFR-mutant adenocarcinoma metastases, the higher levels of EGFR overexpression and more homogeneously distributed high gene copy numbers suggest tumor progression. Our findings have important implications for the development of new strategies for targeted chemoprevention and therapy in lung adenocarcinoma using EGFR inhibitors.
MAP2K4 encodes a dual-specificity kinase (mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 4, or MKK4) that is mutated in a variety of human malignancies, but the biochemical properties of the mutant kinases and their roles in tumorigenesis have not been fully elucidated. Here we showed that 8 out of 11 cancer-associated MAP2K4 mutations reduce MKK4 protein stability or impair its kinase activity. On the basis of findings from bioinformatic studies on human cancer cell lines with homozygous MAP2K4 loss, we posited that MKK4 functions as a tumor suppressor in lung adenocarcinomas that develop in mice owing to expression of mutant Kras and Tp53. Conditional Map2k4 inactivation in the bronchial epithelium of mice had no discernible effect alone but increased the multiplicity and accelerated the growth of incipient lung neoplasias induced by oncogenic Kras. MKK4 suppressed the invasion and metastasis of Kras-Tp53-mutant lung adenocarcinoma cells. MKK4 deficiency increased peroxisomal proliferator-activated receptor γ2 (PPARγ2) expression through noncanonical MKK4 substrates, and PPARγ2 enhanced tumor cell invasion. We conclude that Map2k4 functions as a tumor suppressor in lung adenocarcinoma and inhibits tumor cell invasion by decreasing PPARγ2 levels.
In contrast to the well-studied classic MAPKs, such as ERK1/2, little is known concerning the regulation and substrates of the atypical MAPK ERK3 signaling cascade and its function in cancer progression. Here, we report that ERK3 interacted with and phosphorylated steroid receptor coactivator 3 (SRC-3), an oncogenic protein overexpressed in multiple human cancers at serine 857 (S857). This ERK3-mediated phosphorylation at S857 was essential for interaction of SRC-3 with the ETS transcription factor PEA3, which promotes upregulation of MMP gene expression and proinvasive activity in lung cancer cells. Importantly, knockdown of ERK3 or SRC-3 inhibited the ability of lung cancer cells to invade and form tumors in the lung in a xenograft mouse model. In addition, ERK3 was found to be highly upregulated in human lung carcinomas. Our study identifies a previously unknown role for ERK3 in promoting lung cancer cell invasiveness by phosphorylating SRC-3 and regulating SRC-3 proinvasive activity by site-specific phosphorylation. As such, ERK3 protein kinase may be an attractive target for therapeutic treatment of invasive lung cancer.
Emerging evidence suggests that aberrant expression of oncogenes contributes to development of lung malignancy. The thyroid transcription factor 1 (TITF-1) gene functions as a lineage survival gene abnormally expressed in a significant fraction of NSCLCs, in particular lung adenocarcinomas.
To better characterize TITF-1 abnormality: patterns in NSCLC, we studied TITF-1’s gene copy number using fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) and quantitative PCR, as well as its protein expression by immunohistochemistry analysis in a tissue microarray comprised of surgically resected NSCLC (N=321) including 204 adenocarcinomas and 117 squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs). TITF-1 copy number and protein expression were correlated with patients’ clinicopathologic characteristics, and in a subset of adenocarcinomas with EGFR and KRAS mutation status.
We found that increased TITF-1 protein expression was prevalent in lung adenocarcinomas only and was significantly associated with female gender (p<0.001), never smokers (p=0.004), presence of EGFR mutations (p=0.05) and better overall survival (all stages, p=0.0478. stages I and II, p=0.002). TITF-1 copy number gain (CBG) was detected by FISH analysis in both adenocarcinomas (18.9%; high CNG, 8.3%) and SCCs (20.1%; high CNG, 3.0%), and correlated significantly with the protein product (p=0.004) and presence of KRAS mutations (p=0.008) in lung adenocarcinomas. Moreover, multivariate analysis revealed that TITF-1 copy number gain was an independent predictor of poor survival of NSCLC (p=0.039).
Our integrative study demonstrates that the protein versus genomic expression patterns of TITF-1 have opposing roles in lung cancer prognosis and may occur preferentially in different subsets of NSCLC patients with distinct oncogene mutations.
NSCLC; TITF-1; gene copy gain; lineage-specific oncogenes
Identification of effective markers for outcome is expected to improve the clinical management of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Here, we assessed in NSCLC the prognostic efficacy of genes, which we had previously found to be differentially expressed in an in vitro model of human lung carcinogenesis.
Prediction algorithms and risk-score models were applied to the expression of the genes in publicly available NSCLC expression datasets. The prognostic capacity of the immunohistochemical expression of proteins encoded by these genes was also tested using formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue specimens from 156 lung adenocarcinomas and 79 squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs).
The survival of all-stages (p<0.001, HR=2.0) or stage-I (p<0.001, HR=2.84) adenocarcinoma patients that expressed the five-gene in vitro lung carcinogenesis model (FILM) signature was significantly poorer than that of patients who did not. No survival differences were observed between SCCs predicted to express or lack FILM signature. Moreover, all stages (p<0.001, HR=1.95) or stage-I (p=0.001, HR=2.6) adenocarcinoma patients predicted to be at high risk by FILM transcript exhibited significantly worse survival than patients at low risk. Furthermore, the corresponding protein signature was associated with poor survival (all stages, p<0.001, HR=3.6; stage-I, p<0.001, HR=3.5; stage-IB, p<0.001, HR=4.6) and mortality risk (all stages, p=0.001, HR=4.0; stage-I, p=0.01, HR=3.4; stage-IB, p<0.001, HR=7.2) in lung adenocarcinoma patients.
Our findings highlight a gene and corresponding protein signature with effective capacity for identification of stage-I lung adenocarcinoma patients with poor prognosis that are likely to benefit from adjuvant therapy.
Lung adenocarcinoma; NSCLC; gene signature; prognosis
For processes that follow first order kinetics, exponential decay nonlinear regression analysis (EDNRA) may delineate curve characteristics and suggest processes affecting curve shape. We conducted a preliminary feasibility assessment of EDNRA of patient survival curves.
EDNRA was performed on Kaplan-Meier overall survival (OS) and time-to-relapse (TTR) curves for 323 patients with resected NSCLC and on OS and progression-free survival (PFS) curves from selected publications.
Results and Conclusions
In our resected patients, TTR curves were triphasic with a “cured” fraction of 60.7% (half-life [t1/2] >100,000 months), a rapidly-relapsing group (7.4%, t1/2=5.9 months) and a slowly-relapsing group (31.9%, t1/2=23.6 months). OS was uniphasic (t1/2=74.3 months), suggesting an impact of co-morbidities; hence, tumor molecular characteristics would more likely predict TTR than OS. Of 172 published curves analyzed, 72 (42%) were uniphasic, 92 (53%) were biphasic, 8 (5%) were triphasic. With first-line chemotherapy in advanced NSCLC, 87.5% of curves from 2-3 drug regimens were uniphasic vs only 20% of those with best supportive care or 1 drug (p<0.001). 54% of curves from 2-3 drug regimens had convex rapid-decay phases vs 0% with fewer agents (p<0.001). Curve convexities suggest that discontinuing chemotherapy after 3-6 cycles “synchronizes” patient progression and death. With postoperative adjuvant chemotherapy, the PFS rapid-decay phase accounted for a smaller proportion of the population than in controls (p=0.02) with no significant difference in rapid-decay t1/2, suggesting adjuvant chemotherapy may move a subpopulation of patients with sensitive tumors from the relapsing group to the cured group, with minimal impact on time to relapse for a larger group of patients with resistant tumors. In untreated patients, the proportion of patients in the rapid-decay phase increased (p=0.04) while rapid-decay t1/2 decreased (p=0.0004) with increasing stage, suggesting that higher stage may be associated with tumor cells that both grow more rapidly and have a higher probability of surviving metastatic processes than in early stage tumors.
This preliminary assessment of EDNRA suggests that it may be worth exploring this approach further using more sophisticated, statistically rigorous nonlinear modelling approaches. Using such approaches to supplement standard survival analyses could suggest or support specific testable hypotheses.
exponential decay; nonlinear regression analysis; non-small cell lung cancer Running Title: Nonlinear regression of NSCLC patient survival time
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
The role of RNA-dependent protein kinase (PKR) in antiviral defence mechanisms and in cellular differentiation, growth, and apoptosis is well known, but the role of PKR in human lung cancer remains poorly understood. To explore the role of PKR in human lung cancer, we evaluated PKR’s expression in tissue microarray specimens from both non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and normal human bronchial epithelium tissue.
Tissue microarray samples (TMA-1) from 231 lung cancers were stained with PKR antibody and validated on TMA-2 from 224 lung cancers. Immunohistochemical expression score was quantified by three pathologists independently. Survival probability was computed by the Kaplan-Meier method.
The NSCLC cells showed lower levels of PKR expression than normal bronchial epithelium cells did. We also found a significant association between lower levels of PKR expression and lymph node metastasis. We found that loss of PKR expression is correlated with a more aggressive behavior, and that a high PKR expression predicts a subgroup of patients with a favorable outcome. Univariate and multivariate Cox proportional hazards regression models showed that a lower level of PKR expression was significantly associated with shorter survival in NSCLC patients. We further validated and confirmed that PKR to be a powerful prognostic factor in TMA-2 lung cancer (HR=0.22, P<0.0001).
Our findings first indicate that PKR expression is an independent prognostic variable in NSCLC patients.
PKR; Biomarker; Lung cancer
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is an epithelial malignancy involving many anatomical sites and is the most common cancer capable of metastatic spread. Development of early diagnosis methods and novel therapeutics are important for prevention and mortality reduction. In this effort, numerous molecular alterations have been described in SCCs. SCCs share many phenotypic and molecular characteristics, but they have not been extensively compared. This article reviews SCC as a disease, including: epidemiology, pathology, risk factors, molecular characteristics, prognostic markers, targeted therapy, and a new approach to studying SCCs. Through this comparison, several themes are apparent. For example, HPV infection is a common risk factor among the four major SCCs (NMSC, HNSC, ESCC, and NSCLC) and molecular abnormalities in cell-cycle regulation and signal transduction predominate. These data reveal that the molecular insights, new markers, and drug targets discovered in individual SCCs may shed light on this type of cancer as a whole.
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC); Non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC); Head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC); esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC); Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC); epidemiology; risk factors; molecular characteristics; prognostic markers; targeted therapy
To understand the role of Nrf2 and Keap1 in NSCLC, we studied their expression in a large series of tumors with annotated clinicopathologic data, including response to platinum-based adjuvant chemotherapy.
We determined the immunohistochemical expression of nuclear Nrf2 and cytoplasmic Keap1 in 304 NSCLCs and its association with patients’ clinicopathologic characteristics, and in 89 tumors from patients who received neoadjuvant (n=26) or adjuvant platinum-based chemotherapy (n=63). We evaluated NFE2L2 and KEAP1 mutations in 31 tumor specimens.
We detected nuclear Nrf2 expression in 26% of NSCLCs; it was significantly more common in squamous cell carcinomas (38%) than in adenocarcinomas (18%; P<0.0001). Low or absent Keap1 expression was detected in 56% of NSCLCs; it was significantly more common in adenocarcinomas (62%) than in squamous cell carcinomas (46%; P=0.0057). In NSCLC, mutations of NFE2L2 and KEAP1 were very uncommon (2 of 29 and 1 of 31 cases, respectively). In multivariate analysis, Nrf2 expression was associated with worse overall survival (P=0.0139; HR=1.75) in NSCLC patients, and low or absent Keap1 expression was associated with worse overall survival (P=0.0181; HR=2.09) in squamous cell carcinoma. In univariate analysis, nuclear Nrf2 expression was associated with worse recurrence-free survival in squamous cell carcinoma patients who received adjuvant treatment (P=0.0410; HR=3.37).
Increased expression of Nrf2 and decreased expression of Keap1 are common abnormalities in NSCLC and are associated with a poor outcome. Nuclear expression of Nrf2 in malignant lung cancer cells may play a role in resistance to platinum-based treatment in squamous cell carcinoma.
Nrf2; Keap1; NSCLC