Slug is a predictor of poor prognosis in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma patients

Md Raghibul Hasan, Rinu Sharma, Anoop Saraya, Tushar K Chattopadhyay, Siddartha DattaGupta, Paul G Walfish, Shyam S Chauhan, Ranju Ralhan
PloS One 2013, 8 (12): e82846

BACKGROUND: Slug, a regulator of epithelial mesenchymal transition, was identified to be differentially expressed in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) using cDNA microarrays by our laboratory. This study aimed to determine the clinical significance of Slug overexpression in ESCC and determine its correlation with clinicopathological parameters and disease prognosis for ESCC patients.

METHODS: Immunohistochemical analysis of Slug expression was carried out in archived tissue sections from 91 ESCCs, 61 dysplastic and 47 histologically normal esophageal tissues. Slug immunopositivity in epithelial cells was correlated with clinicopathological parameters and disease prognosis over up to 7.5 years for ESCC patients.

RESULTS: Increased expression of Slug was observed in esophageal dysplasia [cytoplasmic, 24/61 (39.3%) cases, p = 0.001, odd's ratio (OR) = 4.7; nuclear, 11/61 (18%) cases, p < 0.001, OR = 1.36] in comparison with normal esophageal tissues. The Slug expression was further increased in ESCCs [cytoplasmic, 64/91 (70.3%) p < 0.001, OR = 10.0; nuclear, 27/91 (29.7%) p < 0.001, OR = 1.42]. Kaplan Meier survival analysis showed significant association of nuclear Slug accumulation with reduced disease free survival of ESCC patients (median disease free survival (DFS) = 6 months, as compared to those that did not show overexpression, DFS = 18 months; p = 0.006). In multivariate Cox regression analysis nuclear Slug expression [p= 0.005, Hazard's ratio (HR) = 2.269, 95% CI = 1.289 - 3.996] emerged as the most significant independent predictor of poor prognosis for ESCC patients.

CONCLUSIONS: Alterations in Slug expression occur in early stages of development of ESCC and are sustained during disease progression. Slug may serve as a diagnostic biomarker and as a predictor of poor disease prognosis to identify ESCC patients that are likely to show recurrence of the disease.

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