Oestrogen receptor pathway activity is associated with outcome in endometrial cancer

Willem Jan van Weelden, Louis J M van der Putten, Márcia A Inda, Anne van Brussel, Marc P L M Snijders, Lisanne M M Schriever, Johan Bulten, Leon F A G Massuger, Anja van de Stolpe, Johanna M A Pijnenborg
British Journal of Cancer 2020 June 8

BACKGROUND: Oestrogen receptor (ER) expression is a prognostic biomarker in endometrial cancer (EC). However, expression does not provide information about the functional activity of the ER pathway. We evaluated a model to quantify ER pathway activity in EC, and determined the prognostic relevance of ER pathway activity.

METHODS: ER pathway activity was measured in two publicly available datasets with endometrial and EC tissue, and one clinical cohort with 107 samples from proliferative and hyperplastic endometrium and endometrioid-type EC (EEC) and uterine serous cancer (USC). ER pathway activity scores were inferred from ER target gene mRNA levels from Affymetrix microarray data (public datasets), or measured by qPCR on formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded samples (clinical cohort) and related to ER expression and outcome.

RESULTS: ER pathway activity scores differed significantly throughout the menstrual cycle supporting the validity of the pathway test. The highest ER pathway scores were found in proliferative and hyperplastic endometrium and stage I EEC, whereas stage II-IV EEC and USCs had significantly lower levels. Low ER pathway activity was associated with recurrent disease, and added prognostic value in patients with low ER expression.

CONCLUSION: The ER pathway test reflects activity of the ER pathway, and may improve prediction of outcome in EC patients.

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