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1.  A reproducible brain tumour model established from human glioblastoma biopsies 
BMC Cancer  2009;9:465.
Background
Establishing clinically relevant animal models of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) remains a challenge, and many commonly used cell line-based models do not recapitulate the invasive growth patterns of patient GBMs. Previously, we have reported the formation of highly invasive tumour xenografts in nude rats from human GBMs. However, implementing tumour models based on primary tissue requires that these models can be sufficiently standardised with consistently high take rates.
Methods
In this work, we collected data on growth kinetics from a material of 29 biopsies xenografted in nude rats, and characterised this model with an emphasis on neuropathological and radiological features.
Results
The tumour take rate for xenografted GBM biopsies were 96% and remained close to 100% at subsequent passages in vivo, whereas only one of four lower grade tumours engrafted. Average time from transplantation to the onset of symptoms was 125 days ± 11.5 SEM. Histologically, the primary xenografts recapitulated the invasive features of the parent tumours while endothelial cell proliferations and necrosis were mostly absent. After 4-5 in vivo passages, the tumours became more vascular with necrotic areas, but also appeared more circumscribed. MRI typically revealed changes related to tumour growth, several months prior to the onset of symptoms.
Conclusions
In vivo passaging of patient GBM biopsies produced tumours representative of the patient tumours, with high take rates and a reproducible disease course. The model provides combinations of angiogenic and invasive phenotypes and represents a good alternative to in vitro propagated cell lines for dissecting mechanisms of brain tumour progression.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-465
PMCID: PMC2810304  PMID: 20040089
2.  Restoration of contact inhibition in human glioblastoma cell lines after MIF knockdown 
BMC Cancer  2009;9:464.
Background
Studies of the role of the cytokine macrophage-migration-inhibitory-factor (MIF) in malignant tumors have revealed its stimulating influence on cell-cycle progression, angiogenesis and anti-apoptosis.
Results
Here we show that in vitro targeting MIF in cultures of human malignant glioblastoma cells by either antisense plasmid introduction or anti-MIF antibody treatment reduced the growth rates of tumor cells. Of note is the marked decrease of proliferation under confluent and over-confluent conditions, implying a role of MIF in overcoming contact inhibition. Several proteins involved in contact inhibition including p27, p21, p53 and CEBPalpha are upregulated in the MIF antisense clones indicating a restoration of contact inhibition in the tumor cells. Correspondingly, we observed a marked increase in MIF mRNA and protein content under higher cell densities in LN18 cells. Furthermore, we showed the relevance of the enzymatic active site of MIF for the proliferation of glioblastoma cells by using the MIF-tautomerase inhibitor ISO-1.
Conclusion
Our study adds another puzzle stone to the role of MIF in tumor growth and progression by showing the importance of MIF for overcoming contact inhibition.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-464
PMCID: PMC2810303  PMID: 20038293
3.  Expression of the costimulatory molecule B7-H3 is associated with prolonged survival in human pancreatic cancer 
BMC Cancer  2009;9:463.
Background
Costimulatory signaling has been implicated as a potential regulator of antitumor immunity in various human cancers. In contrast to the negative prognostic value of aberrant B7-H1 expression by pancreatic cancer cells, the role of B7-H3 is still unknown. Therefore, we investigated the expression pattern and clinical significance of B7-H3 expression in human pancreatic cancer.
Methods
B7-H3 expression was evaluated by immunohistochemistry in 68 patients with pancreatic cancer who underwent surgical tumor resection. Expression data was correlated with clinicopathologic features and with the number of tumor-infiltrating T cells.
Results
B7-H3 expression was significantly upregulated in pancreatic cancer compared to normal pancreas (p < 0.05). In 60 of 68 examined tumors B7-H3 protein was detectable in pancreatic cancer cells. Patients with high tumor B7-H3 levels had a significantly better postoperative prognosis than patients with low tumor B7-H3 levels (p = 0.0067). Furthermore, tumor B7-H3 expression significantly correlated with the number of tumor-infiltrating CD8+ T cells (p = 0.018).
Conclusion
We demonstrate for the first time that B7-H3 is abundantly expressed in pancreatic cancer and that tumor-associated B7-H3 expression significantly correlates with prolonged postoperative survival. Our findings suggest that B7-H3 might play an important role as a potential stimulator of antitumor immune response in pancreatic cancer.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-463
PMCID: PMC2808322  PMID: 20035626
4.  Gain in cellular organization of inflammatory breast cancer: A 3D in vitro model that mimics the in vivo metastasis 
BMC Cancer  2009;9:462.
Background
The initial step of metastasis in carcinomas, often referred to as the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), occurs via the loss of adherens junctions (e.g. cadherins) by the tumor embolus. This leads to a subsequent loss of cell polarity and cellular differentiation and organization, enabling cells of the embolus to become motile and invasive. However highly malignant inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) over-expresses E-cadherin. The human xenograft model of IBC (MARY-X), like IBC, displays the signature phenotype of an exaggerated degree of lymphovascular invasion (LVI) in situ by tumor emboli. An intact E-cadherin/α, β-catenin axis mediates the tight, compact clump of cells found both in vitro and in vivo as spheroids and tumor emboli, respectively.
Methods
Using electron microscopy and focused ion beam milling to acquire in situ sections, we performed ultrastructural analysis of both an IBC and non-IBC, E-cadherin positive cell line to determine if retention of this adhesion molecule contributed to cellular organization.
Results
Here we report through ultrastructural analysis that IBC exhibits a high degree of cellular organization with polar elements such as apical/lateral positioning of E-cadherin, apical surface microvilli, and tortuous lumen-like (canalis) structures. In contrast, agarose-induced spheroids of MCF-7, a weakly invasive E-cadherin positive breast carcinoma cell line, do not exhibit ultrastructural polar features.
Conclusions
This study has determined that the highly metastatic IBC with an exaggerated malignant phenotype challenges conventional wisdom in that instead of displaying a loss of cellular organization, IBC acquires a highly structured architecture.
These findings suggest that the metastatic efficiency might be linked to the formation and maintenance of these architectural features. The comparative architectural features of both the spheroid and embolus of MARY-X provide an in vitro model with tractable in vivo applications.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-462
PMCID: PMC2808321  PMID: 20028562
5.  Thrombosis of abdominal aorta during cisplatin-based chemotherapy of testicular seminoma - a case report 
BMC Cancer  2009;9:459.
Background
Vascular complications occurring during cisplatin-based chemotherapy of germ cell tumours are inadequately recognized to date.
Case Presentation
A 49 year old man with advanced seminoma underwent two courses of chemotherapy according to the PEB regimen. Upon restaging, two thrombotic deposits were noted in the descending part of the thoracic aorta and in the infrarenal abdominal aorta, respectively. Although thrombotic plaques caused aortic occlusion of about 30%, no clinical signs of malperfusion of limbs were registered. The patient was placed on anticoagulant therapy. Six months after completion of chemotherapy, thrombotic deposits had completely resolved. In the absence of other predisposing factors, it must be assumed that cisplatin-based chemotherapy represented a strong stimulus for arterial thrombosis in the aorta.
Conclusions
This is the first case of endo-aortic thrombosis during chemotherapy for testicular germ cell cancer. Providers of chemotherapy must be aware of arterial thrombosis even in young patients with testicular cancer.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-459
PMCID: PMC2801684  PMID: 20028501
6.  Prognostic impact of H3K27me3 expression on locoregional progression after chemoradiotherapy in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma 
BMC Cancer  2009;9:461.
Background
Trimethylation of lysine 27 on histone H3 (H3K27me3) by enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH2) is an epigenetic mark that mediates gene silencing. EZH2 is overexpressed and correlates with poor prognosis in many cancers. However, the clinical implication of H3K27me3 in human malignancies has not been well established. We wished to ascertain whether a correlation exists between the expression of H3K27me3 and clinical outcome in a group of patients with esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) treated with definitive chemoradiotherapy (CRT).
Methods
The method of immunohistochemistry (IHC) was utilized to examine the protein expression of H3K27me3 in 98 pretreatment biopsy specimens of ESCC and in 30 samples of normal esophageal mucosa. The clinical/prognostic significance of H3K27me3 expression was statistically analyzed.
Results
The expression frequency and expression levels of H3K27me3 were significantly higher in ESCCs than in normal tissues. There was a positive correlation between H3K27me3 expression and WHO grade (P = 0.016), tumor size (P = 0.019), T status (P = 0.024), locoregional progression (P = 0.009) and EZH2 expression (P = 0.036). High H3K27me3 expression was associated with poor locoregional progression-free survival (LPFS) (P = 0.010) in ESCC. Further analysis demonstrated that H3K27me3 could stratify patient outcome in T2-3 (P = 0.048), N0 (P = 0.005) and M0 (P = 0.018) stages as well as in CRT effective group (P = 0.022).
Conclusions
Our data suggests that H3K27me3 expression examined by IHC might be useful for stratifying LPFS for different subsets of ESCC patients treated with definitive CRT.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-461
PMCID: PMC2804715  PMID: 20028503
7.  The presence of postmenopausal bleeding as prognostic parameter in patients with endometrial cancer: a retrospective multi-center study 
BMC Cancer  2009;9:460.
Background
To date, there is no consensus on the utility of screening procedures for the early detection of endometrial cancer. The value of transvaginal ultrasound for screening of asymptomatic endometrial cancer has been discussed controversially. This study was conducted to evaluate whether asymptomatic patients with endometrial cancer have a better prognosis than symptomatic patients with endometrial cancer diagnosed after postmenopausal bleeding.
Methods
In the present multi-center study, the effect of the presence of postmenopausal bleeding on prognosis was evaluated retrospectively in 605 patients with endometrial cancer using patients' files. 543 patients (133 patients were asymptomatic, 410 patients were symptomatic) with endometrioid endometrial cancer were enrolled in all further analysis. Student's t-test, Cox regression analysis and Kaplan-Meier analysis were used were appropriate.
Results
Presence/absence of a postmenopausal bleeding was not associated with tumor stage (p = 0.2) and age at diagnosis (p = 0.5). Asymptomatic patients with endometrial cancer had a significantly higher rate of well and moderate-differentiated tumors compared to symptomatic patients (p = 0.008). In univariable and multivariable survival analysis, tumor stage, tumor grade, and patients' age at diagnosis, but not presence/absence of a postmenopausal bleeding, were associated with disease free and overall survival.
Conclusion
Asymptomatic patients with endometrial cancer have a higher rate of well differentiated tumors compared to patients with a postmenopausal bleeding prior to diagnosis. The prognosis of both groups of patients was similar.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-460
PMCID: PMC2807879  PMID: 20028502
8.  Pre-radiotherapy plasma carotenoids and markers of oxidative stress are associated with survival in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma patients: a prospective study 
BMC Cancer  2009;9:458.
Background
The purpose of this study was to compare plasma levels of antioxidants and oxidative stress biomarkers in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) patients with healthy controls. Furthermore, the effect of radiotherapy on these biomarkers and their association with survival in HNSCC patients were investigated.
Methods
Seventy-eight HNSCC patients and 100 healthy controls were included in this study. Follow-up samples at the end of radiotherapy were obtained in 60 patients. Fifteen antioxidant biomarkers (6 carotenoids, 4 tocopherols, ascorbic acid, total antioxidant capacity, glutathione redox potential, total glutathione and total cysteine) and four oxidative stress biomarkers (total hydroperoxides, γ-glutamyl transpeptidase, 8-isoprostagladin F2α and ratio of oxidized/total ascorbic acid) were measured in plasma samples. Analysis of Covariance was used to compare biomarkers between patients and healthy controls. Kaplan-Meier plots and Cox' proportional hazards models were used to study survival among patients.
Results
Dietary antioxidants (carotenoids, tocopherols and ascorbic acid), ferric reducing antioxidant power (FRAP) and modified FRAP were lower in HNSCC patients compared to controls and dietary antioxidants decreased during radiotherapy. Total hydroperoxides (d-ROMs), a marker for oxidative stress, were higher in HNSCC patients compared to controls and increased during radiotherapy. Among the biomarkers analyzed, high levels of plasma carotenoids before radiotherapy are associated with a prolonged progression-free survival (hazard rate ratio: 0.42, 95% CI: 0.20-0.91, p = 0.03). Additionally, high relative increase in plasma levels of d-ROMs (hazard rate ratio: 0.31, 95% CI: 0.13-0.76, p = 0.01) and high relative decrease in FRAP (hazard rate ratio: 0.42, 95% CI: 0.17-0.998, p = 0.05) during radiotherapy are also positively associated with survival.
Conclusions
Biomarkers of antioxidants and oxidative stress are unfavourable in HNSCC patients compared to healthy controls, and radiotherapy affects many of these biomarkers. Increasing levels of antioxidant biomarkers before radiotherapy and increasing oxidative stress during radiotherapy may improve survival indicating that different factors/mechanisms may be important for survival before and during radiotherapy in HNSCC patients. Thus, the therapeutic potential of optimizing antioxidant status and oxidative stress should be explored further in these patients.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-458
PMCID: PMC2813240  PMID: 20025747
9.  Decreased mitochondrial DNA content in blood samples of patients with stage I breast cancer 
BMC Cancer  2009;9:454.
Background
Alterations of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) have been implicated in carcinogenesis. We developed an accurate multiplex quantitative real-time PCR for synchronized determination of mtDNA and nuclear DNA (nDNA). We sought to investigate whether mtDNA content in the peripheral blood of breast cancer patients is associated with clinical and pathological parameters.
Methods
Peripheral blood samples were collected from 60 patients with breast cancer and 51 age-matched healthy individuals as control. DNA was extracted from peripheral blood for the quantification of mtDNA and nDNA, using a one-step multiplex real-time PCR. A FAM labeled MGB probe and primers were used to amplify the mtDNA sequence of the ATP 8 gene, and a VIC labeled MGB probe and primers were employed to amplify the glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate-dehydrogenase gene. mtDNA content was correlated with tumor stage, menstruation status, and age of patients as well as lymph node status and the expression of estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR) and Her-2/neu protein.
Results
The content of mtDNA in stage I breast cancer patients was significantly lower than in other stages (overall P = 0.023). Reduced mtDNA was found often in post menopausal cancer group (P = 0.024). No difference in mtDNA content, in regards to age (p = 0.564), lymph node involvement (p = 0.673), ER (p = 0.877), PR (p = 0.763), and Her-2/neu expression (p = 0.335), was observed.
Conclusion
Early detection of breast cancer has proved difficult and current detection methods are inadequate. In the present study, decreased mtDNA content in the peripheral blood of patients with breast cancer was strongly associated with stage I. The use of mtDNA may have diagnostic value and further studies are required to validate it as a potential biomarker for early detection of breast cancer.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-454
PMCID: PMC2803198  PMID: 20025731
10.  Quality assessment of DNA derived from up to 30 years old formalin fixed paraffin embedded (FFPE) tissue for PCR-based methylation analysis using SMART-MSP and MS-HRM 
BMC Cancer  2009;9:453.
Background
The High Resolution Melting (HRM) technology has recently been introduced as a rapid and robust analysis tool for the detection of DNA methylation. The methylation status of multiple tumor suppressor genes may serve as biomarkers for early cancer diagnostics, for prediction of prognosis and for prediction of response to treatment. Therefore, it is important that methodologies for detection of DNA methylation continue to evolve. Sensitive Melting Analysis after Real Time - Methylation Specific PCR (SMART-MSP) and Methylation Sensitive - High Resolution Melting (MS-HRM) are two methods for single locus DNA methylation detection based on HRM.
Methods
Here, we have assessed the quality of DNA extracted from up to 30 years old Formalin Fixed Paraffin Embedded (FFPE) tissue for DNA methylation analysis using SMART-MSP and MS-HRM. The quality assessment was performed on DNA extracted from 54 Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) samples derived from FFPE tissue, collected over 30 years and grouped into five years intervals. For each sample, the methylation levels of the CDKN2A (p16) and RARB promoters were estimated using SMART-MSP and MS-HRM assays designed to assess the methylation status of the same CpG positions. This allowed for a direct comparison of the methylation levels estimated by the two methods for each sample.
Results
CDKN2A promoter methylation levels were successfully determined by SMART-MSP and MS-HRM in all 54 samples. Identical methylation estimates were obtained by the two methods in 46 of the samples. The methylation levels of the RARB promoter were successfully determined by SMART-MSP in all samples. When using MS-HRM to assess RARB methylation five samples failed to amplify and 15 samples showed a melting profile characteristic for heterogeneous methylation. Twenty-seven of the remaining 34 samples, for which the methylation level could be estimated, gave the same result as observed when using SMART-MSP.
Conclusion
MS-HRM and SMART-MSP can be successfully used for single locus methylation studies using DNA derived from up to 30 years old FFPE tissue. Furthermore, it can be expected that MS-HRM and SMART-MSP will provide similar methylation estimates when assays are designed to analyze the same CpG positions.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-453
PMCID: PMC2804714  PMID: 20025721
11.  The effect of proteoglycans inhibited by RNA interference on metastatic characters of human salivary adenoid cystic carcinoma 
BMC Cancer  2009;9:456.
Background
Salivary adenoid cystic carcinoma (SACC) is one of the most common malignancies of salivary gland. Recurrence or/and early metastasis is its biological properties. In SACC, neoplastic myoepithelial cells secrete proteoglycans unconventionally full of the cribriform or tubular and glandular structures of SACC. Literatures have demonstrated that extracellular matrix provided an essential microenvironment for the biological behavior of SACC. However, there is rare study of the effect of proteoglycans on the potential metastasis of SACC.
In this study, human xylosyltransferase-I (XTLY-I) gene, which catalyzes the rate-limited step of proteoglycans biosynthesis, was knocked down by RNA interference (RNAi) to inhibit the proteoglycans biosynthesis in SACC cell line with high tendency of lung metastasis (SACC-M). The impact of down-regulated proteoglycans on the metastasis characters of SACC-M cells was analyzed and discussed. This research could provide a new idea for the clinical treatment of SACC.
Methods
The eukaryotic expression vector of short hairpin RNA (shRNA) targeting XTLY-I gene was constructed and transfected into SACC-M cells. A stably transfectant cell line named SACC-M-WJ4 was isolated. The XTLY-I expression was measured by real-time PCR and Western blot; the reduction of proteoglycans was measured. The invasion and metastasis of SACC-M-WJ4 cells were detected; the effect of down-regulated proteoglycans on the potential lung metastasis of nude mice was observed, respectively.
Results
The shRNA plasmid targeting XTLY-I gene showed powerful efficiency of RNAi. The mRNA level of target gene decreased by 86.81%, the protein level was decreased by 80.10%, respectively. The silence of XTLY-I gene resulted in the reduction of proteoglycans significantly in SACC-M-WJ4 cells. The inhibitory rate of proteoglycans was 58.17% (24 h), 66.06% (48 h), 57.91% (72 h), 59.36% (96 h), and 55.65% (120 h), respectively. The reduction of proteoglycans suppressed the adhesion, invasion and metastasis properties of SACC-M cells, and decreased the lung metastasis of SACC-M cells markedly either.
Conclusion
The data suggested that the silence of XTLY-I gene in SACC-M cells could suppress proteoglycans biosynthesis and secretion significantly. The reduction of proteoglycans inhibited cell adhesion, invasion and metastasis of SACC-M cells. There is a close relationship between proteoglycans and the biological behavior of SACC.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-456
PMCID: PMC2805682  PMID: 20025737
12.  Mutation analysis of the AATF gene in breast cancer families 
BMC Cancer  2009;9:457.
Background
About 5-10% of breast cancer is due to inherited disease predisposition. Many previously identified susceptibility factors are involved in the maintenance of genomic integrity. AATF plays an important role in the regulation of gene transcription and cell proliferation. It induces apoptosis by associating with p53. The checkpoint kinases ATM/ATR and CHEK2 interact with and phosphorylate AATF, enhancing its accumulation and stability. Based on its biological function, and direct interaction with several known breast cancer risk factors, AATF is a good candidate gene for being involved in heritable cancer susceptibility.
Methods
Here we have screened the entire coding region of AATF in affected index cases from 121 Finnish cancer families for germline defects, using conformation sensitive gel electrophoresis and direct sequencing.
Results
Altogether seven different sequence changes were observed, one missense variant and six intronic ones. Based on the in silico analyses of these sequence alterations, as well as their occurrence in cases and controls, none of them, however, were predicted to be pathogenic.
Conclusions
To our knowledge, this is the first study reporting the mutation screening of the AATF gene in familial breast cancer cases. No evidence for the association with breast cancer was observed.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-457
PMCID: PMC2806411  PMID: 20025740
13.  Array-based DNA methylation profiling of primary lymphomas of the central nervous system 
BMC Cancer  2009;9:455.
Background
Although primary lymphomas of the central nervous system (PCNSL) and extracerebral diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) cannot be distinguished histologically, it is still a matter of debate whether PCNSL differ from systemic DLBCL with respect to their molecular features and pathogenesis. Analysis of the DNA methylation pattern might provide further data distinguishing these entities at a molecular level.
Methods
Using an array-based technology we have assessed the DNA methylation status of 1,505 individual CpG loci in five PCNSL and compared the results to DNA methylation profiles of 49 DLBCL and ten hematopoietic controls.
Results
We identified 194 genes differentially methylated between PCNSL and normal controls. Interestingly, Polycomb target genes and genes with promoters showing a high CpG content were significantly enriched in the group of genes hypermethylated in PCNSL. However, PCNSL and systemic DLBCL did not differ in their methylation pattern.
Conclusions
Based on the data presented here, PCNSL and DLBCL do not differ in their DNA methylation pattern. Thus, DNA methylation analysis does not support a separation of PCNSL and DLBCL into individual entities. However, PCNSL and DLBCL differ in their DNA methylation pattern from non- malignant controls.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-455
PMCID: PMC2807878  PMID: 20025734
14.  Survival of cancer patients treated with mistletoe extract (Iscador): a systematic literature review 
BMC Cancer  2009;9:451.
Background
In Europe, extracts from Viscum album (VA-E), the European white-berry mistletoe, are widely used to treat patients with cancer.
Methods
We searched several databases such as Cochrane, EMBASE, NCCAM, NLM, DIMDI, CAMbase, and Medline. Inclusion criteria were controlled clinical studies on parameters associated with survival in cancer patients treated with Iscador. Outcome data were extracted as they were given in the publication, and expressed as hazard ratios (HR), their logarithm, and the respective standard errors using standard formulas.
Results
We found 49 publications on the clinical effects of Iscador usage on survival of cancer patients which met our criteria. Among them, 41 studies and strata provided enough data to extract hazard ratios (HR) and their standard errors (Iscador versus no extra treatment). The majority of studies reported positive effects in favour of the Iscador application. Heterogeneity of study results was moderate (I2 = 38.3%, p < 0.0001). The funnel plots were considerably skewed, indicating a publication bias, a notion which is corroborated by statistical means (AC = -1.3, CI: -1.9 to -0.6, p <= 0.0001). A random effect meta-analysis estimated the overall hazard ratio at HR = 0.59 (CI: 0.53 to 0.66, p < 0.0001). Randomized studies showed less effects than non-randomized studies (ratio of HRs: 1.24, CI: 0.79 to 1.92, p = 0.35), and matched-pair studies gave significantly better results than others (ratio of HRs: 0.33; CI: 0.17 to 0.65, p = 0.0012).
Conclusions
Pooled analysis of clinical studies suggests that adjuvant treatment of cancer patients with the mistletoe extract Iscador is associated with a better survival. Despite obvious limitations, and strong hints for a publication bias which limits the evidence found in this meta-analysis, one can not ignore the fact that studies with positive effects of VA-E on survival of cancer patients are accumulating. Future studies evaluating the effects of Iscador should focus on a transparent design and description of endpoints in order to provide greater insight into a treatment often being depreciated as ineffective, but highly valued by cancer patients.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-451
PMCID: PMC2804713  PMID: 20021637
15.  Recursive partitioning analysis of prognostic factors in WHO grade III glioma patients treated with radiotherapy or radiotherapy plus chemotherapy 
BMC Cancer  2009;9:450.
Background
We evaluated the hierarchical risk groups for the estimated survival of WHO grade III glioma patients using recursive partitioning analysis (RPA). To our knowledge, this is the first study to address the results of RPA specifically for WHO grade III gliomas.
Methods
A total of 133 patients with anaplastic astrocytoma (AA, n = 56), anaplastic oligodendroglioma (AO, n = 67), or anaplastic oligoastrocytoma (AOA, n = 10) were included in the study. These patients were treated with either radiotherapy alone or radiotherapy followed by PCV chemotherapy after surgery. Five prognostic factors, including histological subsets, age, performance status, extent of resection, and treatment modality were incorporated into the RPA. The final nodes of RPA were grouped according to their survival times, and the Kaplan-Meier graphs are presented as the final set of prognostic groups.
Results
Four risk groups were defined based on the clinical prognostic factors excluding age, and split variables were all incorporated into the RPA. Survival analysis showed significant differences in mean survival between the different groups: 163.4 months (95% CI: 144.9-182.0), 109.5 months (86.7-132.4), 66.6 months (50.8-82.4), and 27.7 months (16.3-39.0), respectively, from the lowest to the highest risk group (p = 0.00).
Conclusion
The present study shows that RPA grouping with clinical prognostic factors can successfully predict the survival of patients with WHO grade III glioma.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-450
PMCID: PMC2806410  PMID: 20017960
16.  Compound K, a metabolite of ginseng saponin, induces apoptosis via caspase-8-dependent pathway in HL-60 human leukemia cells 
BMC Cancer  2009;9:449.
Background
Compound K [20-O-β-(D-glucopyranosyl)-20(S)-protopanaxadiol], a metabolite of the protopanaxadiol-type saponins of Panax ginseng C.A. Meyer, has been reported to possess anti-tumor properties to inhibit angiogenesis and to induce tumor apoptosis. In the present study, we investigated the effect of Compound K on apoptosis and explored the underlying mechanisms involved in HL-60 human leukemia cells.
Methods
We examined the effect of Compound K on the viabilities of various cancer cell lines using MTT assays. DAPI assay, Annexin V and PI double staining, Western blot assay and immunoprecipitation were used to determine the effect of Compound K on the induction of apoptosis.
Results
Compound K was found to inhibit the viability of HL-60 cells in a dose- and time-dependent manner with an IC50 of 14 μM. Moreover, this cell death had typical features of apoptosis, that is, DNA fragmentation, DNA ladder formation, and the externalization of Annexin V targeted phosphatidylserine residues in HL-60 cells. In addition, compound-K induced a series of intracellular events associated with both the mitochondrial- and death receptor-dependent apoptotic pathways, namely, (1) the activation of caspases-3, -8, and -9; (2) the loss of mitochondrial membrane potential; (3) the release of cytochrome c and Smac/DIABLO to the cytosol; (4) the translocation of Bid and Bax to mitochondria; and (5) the downregulations of Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL. Furthermore, a caspase-8 inhibitor completely abolished caspase-3 activation, Bid cleavage, and subsequent DNA fragmentation by Compound K. Interestingly, the activation of caspase-3 and -8 and DNA fragmentation were significantly prevented in the presence of cycloheximide, suggesting that Compound K-induced apoptosis is dependent on de novo protein synthesis.
Conclusions
The results indicate that caspase-8 plays a key role in Compound K-stimulated apoptosis via the activation of caspase-3 directly or indirectly through Bid cleavage, cytochrome c release, and caspase-9 activation.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-449
PMCID: PMC2806409  PMID: 20017956
17.  Gene expression relationship between prostate cancer cells of Gleason 3, 4 and normal epithelial cells as revealed by cell type-specific transcriptomes 
BMC Cancer  2009;9:452.
Background
Prostate cancer cells in primary tumors have been typed CD10-/CD13-/CD24hi/CD26+/CD38lo/CD44-/CD104-. This CD phenotype suggests a lineage relationship between cancer cells and luminal cells. The Gleason grade of tumors is a descriptive of tumor glandular differentiation. Higher Gleason scores are associated with treatment failure.
Methods
CD26+ cancer cells were isolated from Gleason 3+3 (G3) and Gleason 4+4 (G4) tumors by cell sorting, and their gene expression or transcriptome was determined by Affymetrix DNA array analysis. Dataset analysis was used to determine gene expression similarities and differences between G3 and G4 as well as to prostate cancer cell lines and histologically normal prostate luminal cells.
Results
The G3 and G4 transcriptomes were compared to those of prostatic cell types of non-cancer, which included luminal, basal, stromal fibromuscular, and endothelial. A principal components analysis of the various transcriptome datasets indicated a closer relationship between luminal and G3 than luminal and G4. Dataset comparison also showed that the cancer transcriptomes differed substantially from those of prostate cancer cell lines.
Conclusions
Genes differentially expressed in cancer are potential biomarkers for cancer detection, and those differentially expressed between G3 and G4 are potential biomarkers for disease stratification given that G4 cancer is associated with poor outcomes. Differentially expressed genes likely contribute to the prostate cancer phenotype and constitute the signatures of these particular cancer cell types.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-452
PMCID: PMC2809079  PMID: 20021671
18.  Upstream ORF affects MYCN translation depending on exon 1b alternative splicing 
BMC Cancer  2009;9:445.
Background
The MYCN gene is transcribed into two major mRNAs: one full-length (MYCN) and one exon 1b-spliced (MYCNΔ1b) mRNA. But nothing is known about their respective ability to translate the MYCN protein.
Methods
Plasmids were prepared to enable translation from the upstream (uORF) and major ORF of the two MYCN transcripts. Translation was studied after transfection in neuroblastoma SH-EP cell line. Impact of the upstream AUG on translation was evaluated after directed mutagenesis. Functional study with the two MYCN mRNAs was conducted by a cell viability assay. Existence of a new protein encoded by the MYCNΔ1b uORF was explored by designing a rabbit polyclonal antibody against a specific epitope of this protein.
Results
Both are translated, but higher levels of protein were seen with MYCNΔ1b mRNA. An upstream ORF was shown to have positive cis-regulatory activity on translation from MYCN but not from MYCNΔ1b mRNA. In transfected SH-EP neuroblastoma cells, high MYCN dosage obtained with MYCNΔ1b mRNA translation induces an antiapoptotic effect after serum deprivation that was not observed with low MYCN expression obtained with MYCN mRNA. Here, we showed that MYCNOT: MYCN Overlap Transcript, a new protein of unknown function is translated from the upstream AUG of MYCNΔ1b mRNA.
Conclusions
Existence of upstream ORF in MYCN transcripts leads to a new level of MYCN regulation. The resulting MYCN dosage has a weak but significant anti-apoptotic activity after intrinsic apoptosis induction.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-445
PMCID: PMC2810302  PMID: 20017904
19.  ECRG4 is a candidate tumor suppressor gene frequently hypermethylated in colorectal carcinoma and glioma 
BMC Cancer  2009;9:447.
Background
Cancer cells display widespread changes in DNA methylation that may lead to genetic instability by global hypomethylation and aberrant silencing of tumor suppressor genes by focal hypermethylation. In turn, altered DNA methylation patterns have been used to identify putative tumor suppressor genes.
Methods
In a methylation screening approach, we identified ECRG4 as a differentially methylated gene. We analyzed different cancer cells for ECRG4 promoter methylation by COBRA and bisulfite sequencing. Gene expression analysis was carried out by semi-quantitative RT-PCR. The ECRG4 coding region was cloned and transfected into colorectal carcinoma cells. Cell growth was assessed by MTT and BrdU assays. ECRG4 localization was analyzed by fluorescence microscopy and Western blotting after transfection of an ECRG4-eGFP fusion gene.
Results
We found a high frequency of ECRG4 promoter methylation in various cancer cell lines. Remarkably, aberrant methylation of ECRG4 was also found in primary human tumor tissues, including samples from colorectal carcinoma and from malignant gliomas. ECRG4 hypermethylation associated strongly with transcriptional silencing and its expression could be re-activated in vitro by demethylating treatment with 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine. Overexpression of ECRG4 in colorectal carcinoma cells led to a significant decrease in cell growth. In transfected cells, ECRG4 protein was detectable within the Golgi secretion machinery as well as in the culture medium.
Conclusions
ECRG4 is silenced via promoter hypermethylation in different types of human cancer cells. Its gene product may act as inhibitor of cell proliferation in colorectal carcinoma cells and may play a role as extracellular signaling molecule.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-447
PMCID: PMC2804712  PMID: 20017917
20.  Hyperoxia increases the uptake of 5-fluorouracil in mammary tumors independently of changes in interstitial fluid pressure and tumor stroma 
BMC Cancer  2009;9:446.
Background
Hypoxia is associated with increased resistance to chemo- and radiation-therapy. Hyperoxic treatment (hyperbaric oxygen) has previously been shown to potentiate the effect of some forms of chemotherapy, and this has been ascribed to enhanced cytotoxicity or neovascularisation. The aim of this study was to elucidate whether hyperoxia also enhances any actual uptake of 5FU (5-fluorouracil) into the tumor tissue and if this can be explained by changes in the interstitium and extracellular matrix.
Methods
One group of tumor bearing rats was exposed to repeated hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) treatment (2 bar, pO2 = 2 bar, 4 exposures à 90 min), whereas one group was exposed to one single identical HBO treatment. Animals housed under normal atmosphere (1 bar, pO2 = 0.2 bar) served as controls. Three doses of 5FU were tested for dose response. Uptake of [3H]-5FU in the tumor was assessed, with special reference to factors that might have contributed, such as interstitial fluid pressure (Pif), collagen content, oxygen stress (measured as malondialdehyd levels), lymphatics and transcapillary transport in the tumors.
Results
The uptake of the cytostatic agent increases immediately after a single HBO treatment (more than 50%), but not 24 hours after the last repeated HBO treatment. Thus, the uptake is most likely related to the transient increase in oxygenation in the tumor tissue. Factors like tumor Pif and collagen content, which decreased significantly in the tumor interstitium after repeated HBO treatment, was without effect on the drug uptake.
Conclusion
We showed that hyperoxia increases the uptake of [3H]-5FU in DMBA-induced mammary tumors per se, independently of changes in Pif, oxygen stress, collagen fibril density, or transendothelial transport alone. The mechanism by which such an uptake occur is still not elucidated, but it is clearly stimulated by elevated pO2.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-446
PMCID: PMC2805681  PMID: 20017908
21.  Primary ciliogenesis defects are associated with human astrocytoma/glioblastoma cells 
BMC Cancer  2009;9:448.
Background
Primary cilia are non-motile sensory cytoplasmic organelles that have been implicated in signal transduction, cell to cell communication, left and right pattern embryonic development, sensation of fluid flow, regulation of calcium levels, mechanosensation, growth factor signaling and cell cycle progression. Defects in the formation and/or function of these structures underlie a variety of human diseases such as Alström, Bardet-Biedl, Joubert, Meckel-Gruber and oral-facial-digital type 1 syndromes. The expression and function of primary cilia in cancer cells has now become a focus of attention but has not been studied in astrocytomas/glioblastomas. To begin to address this issue, we compared the structure and expression of primary cilia in a normal human astrocyte cell line with five human astrocytoma/glioblastoma cell lines.
Methods
Cultured normal human astrocytes and five human astrocytoma/glioblastoma cell lines were examined for primary cilia expression and structure using indirect immunofluorescence and electron microscopy. Monospecific antibodies were used to detect primary cilia and map the relationship between the primary cilia region and sites of endocytosis.
Results
We show that expression of primary cilia in normal astrocytes is cell cycle related and the primary cilium extends through the cell within a unique structure which we show to be a site of endocytosis. Importantly, we document that in each of the five astrocytoma/glioblastoma cell lines fully formed primary cilia are either expressed at a very low level, are completely absent or have aberrant forms, due to incomplete ciliogenesis.
Conclusions
The recent discovery of the importance of primary cilia in a variety of cell functions raises the possibility that this structure may have a role in a variety of cancers. Our finding that the formation of the primary cilium is disrupted in cells derived from astrocytoma/glioblastoma tumors provides the first evidence that altered primary cilium expression and function may be part of some malignant phenotypes. Further, we provide the first evidence that ciliogenesis is not an all or none process; rather defects can arrest this process at various points, particularly at the stage subsequent to basal body association with the plasma membrane.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-448
PMCID: PMC2806408  PMID: 20017937
22.  Concerns about anti-angiogenic treatment in patients with glioblastoma multiforme 
BMC Cancer  2009;9:444.
Background
The relevance of angiogenesis inhibition in the treatment of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) should be considered in the unique context of malignant brain tumours. Although patients benefit greatly from reduced cerebral oedema and intracranial pressure, this important clinical improvement on its own may not be considered as an anti-tumour effect.
Discussion
GBM can be roughly separated into an angiogenic component, and an invasive or migratory component. Although this latter component seems inert to anti-angiogenic therapy, it is of major importance for disease progression and survival. We reviewed all relevant literature. Published data support that clinical symptoms are tempered by anti-angiogenic treatment, but that tumour invasion continues. Unfortunately, current imaging modalities are affected by anti-angiogenic treatment too, making it even harder to define tumour margins. To illustrate this we present MRI, biopsy and autopsy specimens from bevacizumab-treated patients.
Moreover, while treatment of other tumour types may be improved by combining chemotherapy with anti-angiogenic drugs, inhibiting angiogenesis in GBM may antagonise the efficacy of chemotherapeutic drugs by normalising the blood-brain barrier function.
Summary
Although angiogenesis inhibition is of considerable value for symptom reduction in GBM patients, lack of proof of a true anti-tumour effect raises concerns about the place of this type of therapy in the treatment of GBM.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-444
PMCID: PMC2801683  PMID: 20015387
23.  Sensitive HPV detection in oropharyngeal cancers 
BMC Cancer  2009;9:440.
Background
Human papillomaviruses (HPV) are the aetiological agents of certain benign and malignant tumours of skin and mucosae; the most important of which is cervical cancer. Also, the incidence of ano-genital warts, HPV-anal cancer and oropharyngeal cancers are rising. To help ascertain a useful PCR detection protocol for oropharyngeal cancers, we directly compared three commonly used primer sets in detection of HPV from different clinical samples.
Methods
We compared PGMY09/11, MY09/11 and GP5+/6+ primers sets in PCRs of 34 clinically diagnosed samples of genital warts, cervical brushings (with associated histological diagnosis) and vulval biopsies. All negative samples were subsequently tested using the previously reported PGMY/GP PCR method and amplicons directly sequenced for confirmation and typing. An optimised PCR protocol was then compared to a line blot assay for detection of HPV in 15 oropharyngeal cancer samples.
Results
PGMY09/11 primers detected HPV presence in more cervical brushing (100%) and genital wart (92.9%) samples compared to MY09/11 (90% and 64.3%) and GP5+/6+ (80% and 64.3%) primer sets, respectively. From vulval biopsies, HPV detection rates were: MY09/11 (63.6%), GP5+/6+ (54.5%) and PGMY09/11 (54.5%). PGMY/GP nested PCR demonstrated that HPV was present, and direct sequencing confirmed genotypes. This nested PCR protocol showed detection of HPV in 10/15 (66.7%) of oropharyngeal cancer samples.
Conclusions
PGMY09/11 primers are the preferred primer set among these three for primary PCR screening with different clinical samples. MY09/11 and GP5+/6+ may be used (particularly for cervical samples) but demonstrate lower detection rates. A nested PCR approach (i.e. a PGMY-GP system) may be required to confirm negativity or to detect low levels of HPV, undetectable using current primary PCR methods, as demonstrated using oropharyngeal cancer samples.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-440
PMCID: PMC2803197  PMID: 20003490
24.  Risk of urinary bladder cancer: a case-control analysis of industry and occupation 
BMC Cancer  2009;9:443.
Background
Uncertainty remains about urinary bladder cancer (UBC) risk for many occupations. Here, we investigate the association between occupation, industry and UBC.
Methods
Lifetime occupational history was collected by in-person interview for 604 newly diagnosed UBC patients and 604 cancer-free controls. Each job title was assigned a two-digit industry code and a three-digit occupation code. Odds ratios (ORs) for UBC associated with ever being employed in an industry or occupation were calculated by unconditional logistic regression adjusting for age, gender and smoking status. We also examined UBC risk by duration of employment (>0 to <10, ≥10 years) in industry or occupation.
Results
Significantly increased risk of UBC was observed among waiters and bartenders (OR 2.87; 95% CI 1.05 to 7.72) and occupations related to medicine and health (OR 2.17; 95% CI 1.21 to 3.92), agricultural production, livestock and animal specialties (OR 1.90; 95% CI 1.03 to 3.49), electrical assembly, installation and repair (OR 1.69; 95% CI 1.07 to 2.65), communications (OR 1.74; 95% CI 1.00 to 3.01), and health services (OR 1.58; 95% CI 1.02 to 2.44). For these occupations we also observed a significant excess risk of UBC for long-term work (i.e. ≥10 years), with the exception of waiters and bartenders. Employment for 10 years or more was associated with increased risk of UBC in general farmers (OR 9.58; 95% CI 2.18 to 42.05), agricultural production of crops (OR 3.36; 95% CI 1.10 to 10.27), occupations related to bench working (OR 4.76; 95% CI 1.74 to 13.01), agricultural, fishery, forestry & related (OR 4.58; 95% CI 1.97 to 10.65), transportation equipment (OR 2.68; 95% CI 1.03 to 6.97), and structural work (OR 1.85; 95% CI 1.16 to 2.95).
Conclusions
This study provides evidence of increased risk of UBC for occupations that were previously reported as at-risk. Workers in several occupation and industry groups have a significantly higher risk of UBC, particularly when duration of employment is 10 years or more.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-443
PMCID: PMC2803497  PMID: 20003537
25.  Association between polymorphisms in DNA repair genes and survival of non-smoking female patients with lung adenocarcinoma 
BMC Cancer  2009;9:439.
Background
Excision repair cross-complementing group 1 (ERCC1) and group 2 (ERCC2), and X-ray repair cross-complementing group 1 (XRCC1) proteins play important roles in the repair of DNA damage and adducts. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of DNA repair genes are suspected to influence treatment effect and survival of cancer patients. This study aimed to investigate the relationship between polymorphisms in ERCC2, ERCC1 and XRCC1 genes and survival of non-smoking female patients with lung adenocarcinoma.
Methods
We used polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) method to evaluate SNPs in ERCC2, ERCC1 and XRCC1 genes among 257 patients.
Results
The overall median survival time (MST) was 13.07 months. Increasing numbers of either ERCC1 118 or XRCC1 399 variant alleles were associated with shorter survival of non-smoking female lung adenocarcinoma patients (Log-rank P < 0.001). The adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) for individuals with CT or TT genotype at ERCC1 Asn118Asn were 1.48 and 2.67 compared with those with CC genotype. For polymorphism of XRCC1 399, the HRs were 1.28 and 2.68 for GA and AA genotype. When variant alleles across both polymorphisms were combined to analysis, the increasing number of variant alleles was associated with decreasing overall survival. Using the stepwise Cox regression analysis, we found that the polymorphisms in ERCC1 and XRCC1, tumor stage and chemotherapy or radiotherapy status independently predicted overall survival of non-smoking female patients with lung adenocarcinoma.
Conclusions
Genetic polymorphisms in ERCC1 and XRCC1 genes might be prognostic factors in non-smoking female patients with lung adenocarcinoma.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-439
PMCID: PMC2803496  PMID: 20003463

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