Low level expression of human telomerase reverse transcriptase predicts cancer-related death and progression in embryonal carcinoma

Marzieh Shahin, Leili Saeednejad Zanjani, Maryam Abolhasani, Mahtab Rahbar, Mojgan Asgari, Zahra Madjd
Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology 2020 July 17

INTRODUCTION: hTERT (human telomerase reverse transcriptase) is a catalytic subunit of the enzyme telomerase and has a role in cell proliferation, cellular senescence, and human aging.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the expression and significance of hTERT protein expression as a prognostic marker in different histological subtypes of testicular germ cell tumors (TGCTs), including 46 embryonal carcinomas, 46 yolk sac tumors, 38 teratomas, 84 seminomas as well as two main subtypes of seminomas and non-seminomas using tissue microarray (TMA) technique.

RESULTS: The results showed that there is a statistically significance difference between the expression of hTERT and various histological subtypes of TGCTs (P < 0.001). In embryonal carcinoma, low level expression of hTERT protein was significantly associated with advanced pT stage (P = 0.023) as well as tunica vaginalis invasion (P = 0.043). Moreover, low level expression of hTERT protein was found to be a significant predictor of worse DSS (log rank: P = 0.011) and PFS (log rank: P = 0.011) in the univariate analysis. Additionally, significant differences were observed (P =0.021, P =0.018) with 5-year survival rates for DSS and PFS of 66% and 70% for moderate as compared to 97% and 97% for high hTERT protein expression, respectively.

CONCLUSION: We showed that hTERT protein expression was associated with more aggressive tumor behavior in embryonal carcinoma patients. Also, hTERT may be a novel worse prognostic indicator of DSS or PFS, if the patients are followed up for more time periods.

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