Keratin 34betaE12/keratin7 expression is a prognostic factor of cancer-specific and overall survival in patients with early stage non-small cell lung cancer

Mette Pøhl, Karen Ege Olsen, Rene Holst, Tom Donnem, Lill-Tove Busund, Roy M Bremnes, Samer Al-Saad, Sigve Andersen, Elin Richardsen, Henrik J Ditzel, Olfred Hansen
Acta Oncologica 2016, 55 (2): 167-77

BACKGROUND: Carcinomas and their metastases often retain the keratin patterns of their epithelial origin, and are therefore useful as lineage-specific markers in diagnostic pathology. Recently, it has become clear that intermediate filaments composed by keratins play a role in modulation of cell proliferation, migration, and possibly cancer invasion, factors impacting prognosis in early stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

MATERIAL AND METHODS: Tumor tissue from a retrospective Danish cohort of 177 patients with completely resected NSCLC, stage I-IIIA tumors, were analyzed for keratin 7 (K7) and keratin 34βE12 expression by immunohistochemistry and validated in a comparable independent Norwegian cohort of 276 stage I-IIIA NSCLC patients.

RESULTS: Based on keratin 34βE12/K7 expression, three subgroups with significantly different median cancer-specific survival rates were identified (34βE12+/K7+, 168 months vs. 34βE12+/K7+, 73 months vs. 34βE12-/K7+, 30 months; p = 0.0004). In multivariate analysis, stage II-IIIA (HR 2.9), 34βE12+/K7+ (HR 1.90) and 34βE12-/K7+ (HR 3.7), were prognostic factors of poor cancer-specific survival (CSS) (p < 0.001). Validation in the Norwegian cohort confirmed that stage II-IIIA (HR 2.3), 34βE12+/K7+ (HR 1.6), and 34βE12-/K7+ (HR 2.0) were prognostic factors of poor CSS (p < 0.05). Multivariate Cox proportional-hazard analysis demonstrated that 34βE12+/K7 + and 34βE12+/K7 + status was significantly associated with poor overall survival (p < 0.05).

CONCLUSION: Keratin 34βE12/K7 expression is a prognostic parameter in resected early stage NSCLC that allows identification of high-risk NSCLC patients with poor cancer-specific and overall survival.

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