Lung cancer (Amsterdam, Netherlands)

Non-terminal respiratory unit type lung adenocarcinoma has three distinct subtypes and is associated with poor prognosis.

PMID 24725383


The characteristics of non-terminal respiratory unit (TRU) type lung adenocarcinoma are still unclear. The aim of the present study was to characterize non-TRU type lung adenocarcinoma. We analyzed the expression of mucins MUC5B and MUC5AC, as well as thyroid transcription factor-1 (TTF-1), using a tissue microarray comprising lung adenocarcinoma specimens from 244 consecutive patients. The presence of mutations in EGFR and KRAS were also determined. TTF-1, MUC5B, and MUC5AC were detected in 219 (89.8%), 75 (30.7%), and 33 cases (13.5%), respectively. Cluster analysis of protein expression profiles and EGFR and KRAS mutations yielded five groups of tumors as follows: TRU1-type [TTF-1(+), MUC5B(-), MUC5AC(-), EGFR mutations(-)]; TRU2-type [TTF-1(+), MUC5B(-), MUC5AC(-), EGFR mutations(+)]; Combined-type [TTF-1(+), MUC5B(+), and/or MUC5AC(+)]; Bronchiolar-type [TTF-1(-), MUC5B(+) and/or MUC5AC(+)]; and Null-type [TTF-1(-), MUC5B(-), MUC5AC(-), EGFR mutations(-), KRAS mutations(-)]. TRU-type tumors, which include TRU1- and TRU2-type tumors, were significantly associated with TRU morphology, whereas Bronchiolar-type tumors were associated with non-TRU morphology. Combined-type cases exhibited intermediate morphologies between TRU-type and Bronchiolar-type cases. TRU-type was associated with significantly better prognosis, followed by Combined-type, Bronchiolar-type, and Null-type (disease-free survival [DFS] P = 0.017; overall survival [OS], P = 0.002). Multivariate analyses indicated that non-TRU type tumors, which include Bronchiolar-, Combined-, Null-type tumors, were significantly correlated with poorer prognoses for DFS (hazard ratio = 1.785; 95% CI, 1.041-3.063; P = 0.035) and OS (hazard ratio = 1.928; 95% CI, 1.084-3.421; P = 0.025). This study revealed three distinct subtypes of non-TRU type adenocarcinomas. Additionally, non-TRU type tumors were associated with worse prognoses than TRU type tumors. The results presented here may be useful for select patients should appropriate therapies become available.