Human pathology

Loss of the retinoblastoma tumor suppressor correlates with improved outcome in patients with lung adenocarcinoma treated with surgery and chemotherapy.

PMID 26475095


The retinoblastoma tumor suppressor pathway is frequently inactivated in human cancer, enabling unrestrained proliferation. Most cancers, however, maintain expression of a wild-type (WT) retinoblastoma tumor suppressor protein (pRB). It is generally in a hyperphosphorylated state (ppRB) because of mutations in upstream regulators such as p16 and cyclin D. Hyperphosphorylated ppRB is considered inactive, although data are emerging that suggest it can retain some function. To test the clinical relevance of pRB status, we obtained archival tissue sections from 91 cases of lung adenocarcinoma resected between 2003 and 2008. All cases received platinum doublet chemotherapy, and the median survival was 5.9 years. All cases were assessed for pRB and ppRB using immunohistochemistry and quantified based on intensity of signal and proportion of positive cells. pRB expression was lost in 15% of lung adenocarcinoma cases. In tumors that did not express pRB, the survival rate was significantly improved (hazard ratio, 0.21; 95% confidence interval, 0.06-0.69; P = .01) in comparison to tumors that express pRB. pRB status was found to be an independent predictor of overall survival on multivariate analysis (hazard ratio, 0.22; 95% confidence interval, 0.07-0.73; P = .01) along with increased stage and age. pRB status did not alter baseline levels of apoptotic or proliferative markers in these tumors, but the DNA damage response protein 53BP1 was higher in cancers with high levels of pRB. In summary, loss of pRB expression is associated with improved survival in patients treated with surgical resection and chemotherapy. This may be useful in classifying patients at greatest benefit for aggressive treatment regimes.