Prognostic value of the stem cell markers CD133 and ABCG2 expression in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma

D Hang, H-C Dong, T Ning, B Dong, D-L Hou, W-G Xu
Diseases of the Esophagus: Official Journal of the International Society for Diseases of the Esophagus 2012, 25 (7): 638-44
In the light of increasing evidence supporting cancer stem cells (CSCs) theory, the expression of two stem cell markers, CD133 and adenosine triphosphate-binding cassette superfamily G member 2 (ABCG2), in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) was investigated, and their prognostic values were evaluated. Paraffin-embedded tissue sections of 110 ESCC patients were investigated using Immunohistochemistry. The association of CD133 and ABCG2 expression with clinicopathologic characteristics was analyzed by χ(2) test. Survival analysis was carried out using Kaplan-Meier method and Cox proportional hazards model. CD133 and ABCG2 expression were detected in 27.3% and 15.5% of ESCC patients, respectively. The presence of CD133-positive cancer cells was associated with tumor cell differentiation (P= 0.008) but not significantly related to the survival of ESCC patients (P= 0.085). ABCG2 expression was not associated with clinicopathologic characteristics but was a significant prognostic factor for adverse overall survival of ESCC patients (P= 0.005). The median overall survival time for ESCC patients with and without ABCG2 expression were 21.8 and >49.3 months, respectively. A combined analysis of CD133 and ABCG2 expression did not show that ESCC patients with coexpression of these two markers had a worse prognosis than those with only ABCG2 expression (P= 0.934). Moreover, ABCG2 expression was revealed to be an independent prognostic factor along with tumor node metastasis stage in multivariate analysis (hazard ratio of ABCG2, 3.38; 95% confidence interval, 1.61∼7.09; P= 0.001). By survival analysis based on tumor node metastasis stage of ESCC, the association between ABCG2 expression and the patients' prognosis was found significant in the group of relatively early stage (P= 0.005) and marginally significant in the group of relatively late stage (P= 0.058). This is the first time to report the presence of CD133-positive cancer cells in ESCC but not supporting its prognostic value and validity as a CSC marker for ESCC. ABCG2 expression was found to correlate with the survival of ESCC patients, especially those at relatively early stage, suggesting that ABCG2-positive cancer cells may represent a pool of CSCs in ESCC, and relatively early-stage patients with ABCG2 expression may deserve more intensive or targeted therapy.

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