Prognostic significance of WNT and hedgehog pathway activation markers in cancer of unknown primary
Malamou-Mitsi, Vassiliki D.
SourceEuropean journal of clinical investigation
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Background: Cancer of unknown primary (CUP) possesses distinct biology and peculiar natural history, in which the roles of the winged and hedgehog signalling pathways are unclear. Materials and methods: We constructed tissue microarrays and studied the immunohistochemical (IHC) expression of β-catenin, smoothened (SMO) and the transcription factors TCF, LEF, GLI1 in 87 CUP cases for prognostic significance. Results: A low rate of IHC expression of proteins was seen, the cut-off used being any expression in ≥ 1% of tumour cells. At univariate analysis, only nuclear IHC SMO expression displayed a statistically significant association with favourable outcome [median Overall survival (OS) of 19 months in SMO-positive vs. 12 months in SMO-negative cases, P = 0·01]. An activated Wnt pathway, defined as IHC expression of any of nuclear β-catenin, TCF and LEF, was significantly associated with favourable progression free survival (median 9 vs. 5 months, P = 0·037) and OS (median 19 vs. 13 months, P = 0·04). This prognostic impact on OS was mainly driven by nuclear expression of TCF and/or LEF (P = 0·03). No prognostic significance of the hedgehog pathway activation status, defined as IHC expression of SMO or nuclear GLI1, could be established. A favourable prognostic impact of the concurrent activation of both pathways was observed. A trend for association of activated Wnt with response to chemotherapy (responders 67% among activated Wnt cases vs. 35% among nonactivated Wnt cases, P = 0·07) was observed in CUP adenocarcinomas. Conclusions: Activation of the Wnt pathway was a positive prognostic factor in a small CUP series, possibly via enhanced chemosensitivity. Independent validation is warranted. © 2015 Stichting European Society for Clinical Investigation Journal Foundation.
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