We isolated tumour endothelial cells (TECs), demonstrated their abnormalities, compared gene expression profiles of TECs and normal endothelial cells (NECs) by microarray analysis and identified several genes upregulated in TECs. We focused on the gene encoding biglycan, a small leucine-rich repeat proteoglycan. No report is available on biglycan expression or function in TECs.
The NEC and TEC were isolated. We investigated the biglycan expression and function in TECs. Western blotting analysis of biglycan was performed on sera from cancer patients.
Biglycan expression levels were higher in TECs than in NECs. Biglycan knockdown inhibited cell migration and caused morphological changes in TECs. Furthermore, immunostaining revealed strong biglycan expression in vivo in human tumour vessels, as in mouse TECs. Biglycan was detected in the sera of cancer patients but was hardly detected in those of healthy volunteers.
These findings suggested that biglycan is a novel TEC marker and a target for anti-angiogenic therapy.
biglycan; tumour endothelial cells; tumour angiogenesis
It is becoming increasingly recognised that opioids are responsible for tumour growth. However, the effects of opioids on tumour growth have been controversial.
The effects of κ-opioid receptor (KOR) agonist on the growth of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells were assessed by a cell proliferation assay. Western blotting was performed to ascertain the mechanism by which treatment with KOR agonist suppresses tumour growth.
Addition of the selective KOR agonist U50,488H to gefitinib-sensitive (HCC827) and gefitinib-resistant (H1975) NSCLC cells produced a concentration-dependent decrease in their growth. These effects were abolished by co-treatment with the selective KOR antagonist nor-BNI. Furthermore, the growth-inhibitory effect of gefitinib in HCC827 cells was further enhanced by co-treatment with U50,488H. With regard to the inhibition of tumour growth, the addition of U50, 488H to H1975 cells produced a concentration-dependent decrease in phosphorylated-glycogen synthase kinase 3β (p-GSK3β).
The present results showed that stimulation of KOR reduces the growth of gefitinib-resistant NSCLC cells through the activation of GSK3β.
κ-opioid receptor; non-small cell lung cancer; gefitinib
The rapid collection of diverse genome-scale data raises the urgent need to integrate and utilise these resources for biological discovery or biomedical applications. For example, diverse transcriptomic and gene copy number variation data are currently collected for various cancers, but relatively few current methods are capable to utilise the emerging information.
We developed and tested a data-integration method to identify gene networks that drive the biology of breast cancer clinical subtypes. The method simultaneously overlays gene expression and gene copy number data on protein–protein interaction, transcriptional-regulatory and signalling networks by identifying coincident genomic and transcriptional disturbances in local network neighborhoods.
We identified distinct driver-networks for each of the three common clinical breast cancer subtypes: oestrogen receptor (ER)+, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)+, and triple receptor-negative breast cancers (TNBC) from patient and cell line data sets. Driver-networks inferred from independent datasets were significantly reproducible. We also confirmed the functional relevance of a subset of randomly selected driver-network members for TNBC in gene knockdown experiments in vitro. We found that TNBC driver-network members genes have increased functional specificity to TNBC cell lines and higher functional sensitivity compared with genes selected by differential expression alone.
Clinical subtype-specific driver-networks identified through data integration are reproducible and functionally important.
driver-network; data integration; network analysis; breast cancer subtype; triple-negative breast cancer
New therapeutic options for metastatic pancreatic cancer are urgently needed. In pancreatic cancer, overexpression of the epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) has been reported in up to 45%. This multicentre phase II study investigated the efficacy and toxicity of the HER2 antibody trastuzumab combined with capecitabine in the patients with pancreatic cancer and HER2 overexpression.
Primary endpoint was progression-free survival (PFS) after 12 weeks. A total of 212 patients were screened for HER2 expression.
Immunohistochemical (IHC) HER2 expression was: 83 (40%) grade 0, 71 (34%) grade 1, 31 (15%) grade 2, 22 (11%) grade 3. A total of 17 patients with IHC +3 HER2 expression or gene amplification could be assessed for the treatment response. Grade 3/4 treatment toxicities were: each 7% leucopenia, diarrhoea, nausea and hand-foot syndrome. Progression-free survival after 12 weeks was 23.5%, median overall survival (OS) 6.9 months.
This study demonstrates +3 HER2 expression or gene amplification in 11% of patients. Contrary to breast and gastric cancer, only 7 out of 11 (64%) patients with IHC +3 HER2 expression showed gene amplification. Although the therapy was well tolerated, PFS and OS did not perform favourably compared with standard chemotherapy. Together, we do not recommend further evaluation of anti-HER2 treatment in patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer.
pancreatic cancer; immunohistochemistry; growth factors; chemotherapy
Epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT) is known to be associated with chemoresistance as well as increased invasion/metastasis. However, the relationship between EMT and resistance to an epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) -targeting drug in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) remains unknown. In this study, we investigated the acquisition of EMT by gefitinib in HNSCC cell line (UMSCC81B).
We isolated fibroblastoid variant (81B-Fb) from gefitinib-resistant UMSCC81B-GR3 cells obtained after increasing the doses of gefitinib treatment in vitro and examined EMT and its underlying mechanism.
81B-Fb cells exhibited fibroblast-like morphology, increased motility, loss of E-cadherin, acquisition of vimentin and snail expression. In 81B-Fb cells, downregulation of EGFR, which is mediated by increased ubiquitination, and activation of downstream protein kinase B (Akt), glycogen synthase kinase-beta (GSK-3β) signalling and upregulation of snail expression were observed compared with UMSCC81B cells. LY294002, but not U0126, suppressed foetal bovine serum or heregulin-β1-induced phosphorylation of Akt/GSK-3β and snail expression together with the inhibition of 81B-Fb cell motility. Furthermore, forced expression of EGFR resulted in partial restoration of gefitinib sensitivity and reversal of EMT.
These results suggest that EMT in the gefitinib-resistant cells is mediated by the downregulation of EGFR and compensatory activation of Akt/GSK-3β/snail pathway.
EMT; gefitinib; EGFR; Akt; GSK-3β; snail
Epithelial cells of endometriotic tissues are difficult to propagate in vitro as experimental material is scarce owing to their limited life span. However, there is an increasing concern regarding their malignant transformation in ovaries. The present study sought to generate their stable culture system.
Methods and results:
Purified epithelial cells isolated from ovarian endometriomas using microscopic manipulation were successfully immortalised by combinatorial transfection of human cyclinD1, cdk4 and human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) genes, whereas the introduction of hTERT alone, or together with cdk4, was insufficient for immortalisation, leading to cellular senescence. We confirmed stable cytokeratin expression in the immortalised cells, proving their epithelial origin. These cells expressed progesterone receptor B and showed significant growth inhibition by various progestins. Oestrogen receptor (ER) expression was detected in these cells, albeit at low levels. Additional overexpression of ERα generated stable cells with oestrogen-dependent growth activation. Soft-agar colony formation assay and nude mice xenograft experiments demonstrated that these cells, even those with additional inactivation of p53, did not have transformed phenotypes.
We for the first time generated immortalised epithelial cells from ovarian endometrioma that retained sex steroid responsiveness. These cells are invaluable tools not only for the consistent in vitro work but also for the study of molecular pathogenesis or carcinogenesis of endometriosis.
ovarian endometrioma; epithelial cells; immortalisation; progestin; oestrogen
Although the physician survey has become an important tool for oncology-focused health services research, such surveys often achieve low response rates. This mini-review reports the results of a structured review of the literature relating to increasing response rates for physician surveys, as well as our own experience from a survey of physicians as to their referral practices for suspected haematologic malignancy in the United States. PubMed and PsychINFO databases were used to identify methodological articles assessing factors that influence response rates for physician surveys; the results were tabulated and reviewed for trends. We also analysed the impact of a follow-up telephone call by a physician investigator to initial non-responders in our own mailed physician survey, comparing the characteristics of those who responded before vs after the call. The systematic review suggested that monetary incentives and paper (vs web or email) surveys increase response rates. In our own survey, follow-up telephone calls increased the response rate from 43.7% to 70.5%, with little discernible difference in the characteristics of early vs later responders. We conclude that in addition to monetary incentives and paper surveys, physician-to-physician follow-up telephone calls are an effective method to increase response rates in oncology-focused physician surveys.
surveys; response rates; health services research; oncology
Triple-negative (TN) tumours are the predominant breast cancer subtype in BRCA1 mutation carriers. Recently, it was proposed that all individuals below 50 years of age with TN breast cancer should be offered BRCA testing. We have evaluated the BRCA1 mutation frequency and the implications for clinical practice of undertaking genetic testing in women with TN breast cancer.
We undertook BRCA1 mutation analysis in 308 individuals with TN breast cancer, 159 individuals from unselected series of breast cancer and 149 individuals from series ascertained on the basis of young age and/or family history.
BRCA1 mutations were present in 45 out of 308 individuals. Individuals with TN cancer <50 years had >10% likelihood of carrying a BRCA1 mutation in both the unselected (11 out of 58, 19%) and selected (26 out of 111, 23%) series. However, over a third would not have been offered testing using existing criteria. We estimate that testing all individuals with TN breast cancer <50 years would generate an extra 1200 tests annually in England.
Women with TN breast cancer diagnosed below 50 years have >10% likelihood of carrying a BRCA1 mutation and are therefore eligible for testing in most centres. However, implementation may place short-term logistical and financial burdens on genetic services.
triple-negative; BRCA1; breast cancer; genetic testing
The natural history of prostate cancer is highly variable and it is difficult to predict. We showed previously that a cell cycle progression (CCP) score was a robust predictor of outcome in a conservatively managed cohort diagnosed by transurethral resection of the prostate. A greater need is to predict outcome in patients diagnosed by needle biopsy.
Total RNA was extracted from paraffin specimens. A CCP score was calculated from expression levels of 31 genes. Clinical variables consisted of centrally re-reviewed Gleason score, baseline prostate-specific antigen level, age, clinical stage, and extent of disease. The primary endpoint was death from prostate cancer.
In univariate analysis (n=349), the hazard ratio (HR) for death from prostate cancer was 2.02 (95% CI (1.62, 2.53), P<10−9) for a one-unit increase in CCP score. The CCP score was only weakly correlated with standard prognostic factors and in a multivariate analysis, CCP score dominated (HR for one-unit increase=1.65, 95% CI (1.31, 2.09), P=3 × 10−5), with Gleason score (P=5 × 10−4) and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) (P=0.017) providing significant additional contributions.
For conservatively managed patients, the CCP score is the strongest independent predictor of cancer death outcome yet described and may prove valuable in managing clinically localised prostate cancer.
localised prostate cancer; prognostic factors; cell cycle genes; expression profiles; CCP score; needle biopsy
Overexpression of plasma membrane multi-drug resistance protein 1 (MRP-1) can lead to multidrug resistance. In this study, we describe for the first time the expression of mitochondrial MRP-1 in untreated human normal and cancer cells and tissues.
MRP-1 expression and subcellular localisation in normal and cancer cells and tissues was examined by differential centrifugation and western blotting, and immunofluorescence microscopy. Viable mitochondria were isolated and MRP-1 efflux activity measured using the calcein-AM functional assay. MRP-1 expression was increased using retroviral infection and specific overexpression confirmed by RNA array. Cell viability was determined by trypan blue exclusion and annexin V-propidium iodide labelling of cells.
MRP-1 was detected in the mitochondria of cancer and normal cells and tissues. The efflux activity of mitochondrial MRP-1 was more efficient (55–64%) than that of plasma membrane MRP-1 (11–22% P<0.001). Induced MRP-1 expression resulted in a preferential increase in mitochondrial MRP-1, suggesting selective targeting to this organelle. Treatment with a non-lethal concentration of doxorubicin (0.85 n, 8 h) increased mitochondrial and plasma membrane MRP-1, increasing resistance to MRP-1 substrates. For the first time, we have identified MRP-1 with efflux activity in human mitochondria.
Mitochondrial MRP-1 may be an exciting new therapeutic target where historically MRP-1 inhibitor strategies have limited clinical success.
MRP-1; mitochondria; human; multi-drug resistance; Ewing's sarcoma family of tumours
Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is a non-invasive form of breast cancer that may progress to invasive cancer. Identification of factors that predict recurrence and distinguish DCIS from invasive recurrence would facilitate treatment recommendations. We examined the prognostic value of nine molecular markers on the risks of local recurrence (DCIS and invasive) among women treated with breast-conserving therapy.
A total of 213 women who were treated with breast-conserving therapy between 1982 and 2000 were included; 141 received breast-conserving surgery alone and 72 cases received radiotherapy. We performed immunohistochemical staining on the DCIS specimen for nine markers: oestrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, Ki-67, p53, p21, cyclinD1, HER2/neu, calgranulin and psoriasin. We performed univariable and multivariable survival analyses to identify markers associated with the recurrence.
The rate of recurrence at 10 years was 36% for patients treated with breast-conserving surgery alone and 18% for women who received breast-conserving surgery and radiotherapy. HER2/neu+/Ki-67+ expression was associated with an increased risk of DCIS recurrence, independent of grade and age (HR=3.22; 95% CI: 1.47–7.03; P=0.003). None of the nine markers were predictive of invasive recurrence.
Women with a HER2/neu/neu+/Ki67+ DCIS have a higher risk of developing DCIS local recurrence after breast-conserving surgery.
DCIS; biomarkers; recurrence; breast-conserving surgery
The Intergroup Exemestane Study (IES) (ISRCTN11883920) demonstrated improved survival for postmenopausal women with ER-positive/unknown primary breast cancer who switched to exemestane after 2–3 years tamoxifen, compared with those continuing on tamoxifen to complete 5 years therapy. This was achieved without detriment to on-treatment quality-of-life (QoL). We report on- and post-treatment QoL impact in IES.
A total of 582 patients from 8 countries participated in the QoL substudy. Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy–Breast (FACT-B) and endocrine symptom subscale (ES) were completed at baseline, 3, 6, 9, 12, 18, 24, 30, 36, 48 and 60 months. The primary endpoint was FACT-B Trial Outcome Index (TOI); secondary endpoints included severity of individual endocrine symptoms.
Both the groups showed gradual improvement in overall QoL and lessening of total endocrine symptoms post treatment compared with baseline (P<0.002). There was no evidence of any between-group differences in TOI. Vasomotor complaints remained high on treatment. Vaginal discharge was more frequent (P<0.01) with tamoxifen up to 24 months from baseline. In both the groups, post-treatment libido did not recover to baseline levels.
Clinical benefits of switching to exemestane are accompanied by good overall QoL. Although some symptoms persist, the majority of endocrine symptoms improve after treatment completion.
aromatase inhibitor; breast cancer; exemestane; oestrogen receptor; quality of life
Chemotherapy based on platinum is the standard treatment for unresectable malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM). Liposomal doxorubicin (LD) consists of pegylated phospholipid vesicles that encapsulate doxorubicin-enhancing liposome deposition in the tumour. We evaluated the toxicity profile and anti-tumour activity of cisplatin plus LD in untreated patients with MPM, as well as 99mTc-LD distribution in MPM lesions after chemotherapy administration.
A total of 38 patients with non-resectable MPM received LD 40 mg m−2 and cisplatin 60 mg m−2 every 21 days. Gamma camera images of 99mTc-LD were acquired to evaluate LD accumulation in measurable tumour tissue. The study was registered in Clinical Trials (NCT00886028).
In all, 72% of patients were stage III and 28% were stage IV. Eighty four percent and 16% have high and low risk acording EORTC respectively. The median time to progression was 4.6 months (95% confidence interval (95% CI: 3.4–5.9 months), and median overall survival (OS) was 19.6 months (15.2–37.2 months). Patients that responded to chemotherapy treatment had better survival than patients who did not. Functional physical scales, dysnea, cough, and chest/arm pain demonstrated improvement. The accumulation ratio of LD in tumour and soft tissues vs liver was 0.78±0.16 and 0.29±0.09, respectively. After 1 h of administration, LD uptake in tumour tissue was higher than in soft tissue (P< 0.001).
The combination of LD and cisplatin results in an active therapeutic regimen for unresectable MPM, with an acceptable toxicity profile and improvement in quality of life. 99mTc-LD showed higher levels of tumour uptake as compared with surrounding tissues.
malignant pleural mesothelioma; liposomal doxorubicin; quallity life; cisplatin; Phase II; LD radiolabelling
To evaluate the activity and safety of everolimus and identify potential biomarkers for efficacy of everolimus in patients with advanced gastric cancer (AGC), who failed both fluoropyrimidine and platinum.
Fifty-four patients received everolimus (10 mg day−1). The primary objective was to determine the 4-month progression-free survival (PFS) rate, assumed to be 30%. We additionally investigated the potential biomarkers for everolimus as an exploratory endpoint in those who underwent tumour biopsies.
Two patients (3.7%) achieved partial response and the disease control rate (DCR) was 38.9%. At a median follow-up duration of 8.7 months, the 4-month PFS rate was 18.4%, not fulfilling the primary hypothesis, with a median PFS of 1.7 months and a median overall survival of 8.3 months. The high expression of pS6Ser240/4 at baseline was significantly associated with higher DCR (P=0.043) and prolonged PFS (P=0.001). Grade 1/2 asthenia (96.3%) recorded as the leading toxicity and hyperglycaemia (20.4%) was the most common non-hematological grade 3/4 toxicity. Three patients experienced grade 3/4 pneumonitis. Notably, two experienced treatment-related deaths.
Everolimus is active against a limited number of patients with AGC. pS6Ser240/4 may be a potential predictive biomarker for everolimus, which requires validation. Careful monitoring is necessary despite generally favourable toxicity profile.
everolimus; advanced gastric cancer; biomarker
We developed a web-based, prognostic tool for extremity and trunk wall soft tissue sarcoma to predict 10-year sarcoma-specific survival. External validation was performed.
Patients referred during 1987–2002 to Helsinki University Central Hospital are included. External validation was obtained from the Lund University Hospital register. Cox proportional hazards models were fitted with the Helsinki data. The previously described model (SIN) includes size, necrosis, and vascular invasion. The extended model (SAM) includes the SIN factors and in addition depth, location, grade, and size on a continuous scale. Models were statistically compared according to accuracy (area under the ROC curve=AUC) of 10-year sarcoma-specific survival prediction.
The AUC of the SAM model in10-year survival prediction in the Helsinki patient series was 0.81 as compared with 0.74 for the SIN model (P=0.0007). The corresponding AUCs in the external validation series were 0.77 for the SAM model and 0.73 for the SIN model (P=0.03). A web-based calculator for the SAM model is available at http://www.prognomics.org/sam.
Addition of grade, depth, and location as well as tumour size on a continuous scale significantly improved the accuracy of the prognostic model when compared with a model that includes only size, necrosis, and vascular invasion.
soft tissue sarcoma; prognosis; web-based; chemotherapy
Thalidomide has potent anti-inflammatory and anti-angiogenic properties. It was evaluated in combination with chemotherapy in two randomised placebo-controlled trials in patients with small cell lung cancer (SCLC, n=724) and advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC, n=722). Neither study demonstrated an improvement in overall survival with the addition of thalidomide to chemotherapy. This study investigated circulating angiogenic biomarkers in a subset of these patients.
Serial plasma samples were collected in a cohort of patients enrolled in these two trials (n=95). Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), soluble truncated form of VEGF receptor-2 (sVEGFR-2), interleukin-8 (IL-8), tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) and soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (sICAM-1) levels were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. Results were correlated with patient clinical data including stage, response rate and progression-free survival (PFS).
Baseline biomarker levels were not significantly different between SCLC and NSCLC. For pooled treatment groups, limited stage SCLC was associated with lower baseline VEGF (P=0.046), sICAM-1 (P=0.008) and IL-8 (P=0.070) than extensive stage disease. Low baseline IL-8 was associated with a significantly improved PFS in both SCLC and NSCLC (P=0.028), and a greater reduction in IL-8 was associated with a significantly improved tumour response (P=0.035). Baseline angiogenic factor levels, however, did not predict response to thalidomide.
Circulating angiogenic biomarkers did not identify patients who benefited from thalidomide treatment.
lung cancer; thalidomide; angiogenesis; biomarker
The aetiology of breast cancer remains elusive. A viral aetiology has been proposed, but to date no virus has been conclusively demonstrated to be involved. Recently, two new viruses, namely Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCV) and xenotropic murine leukaemia virus-related virus (XMRV) have been identified and implicated in the pathogenesis of Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) and familial form of prostate cancer, respectively.
We examined 204 samples from 58 different cases of breast cancer for presence of MCV or XMRV by PCR. Samples consisted of both malignant and non-malignant tissues. Additionally, we included 6 cases of MCC and 12 cases of prostate cancer as potential controls for MCV and XMRV, respectively.
All of the breast cancer samples examined were negative for both MCV and XMRV. However, 4/6 MCC and 2/12 prostate cancer samples were found to be positive for MCV and XMRV, respectively. Sequence analysis of the amplified products confirmed that these sequences belonged to MCV and XMRV.
We conclude that there is no evidence for the involvement of MCV or XMRV in the pathogenesis of breast cancer. What role these viruses have in the pathogenesis of MCC and prostate carcinomas remains to be demonstrated.
MCV; XMRV; breast cancer; prostate cancer; Merkel cell carcinoma