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21-04-2016 | Brain metastases | Article

Metastasis-inducing proteins are widely expressed in human brain metastases and associated with intracranial progression and radiation response

Rasheed Zakaria, Angela Platt-Higgins, Nitika Rathi, Daniel Crooks, Andrew Brodbelt, Emmanuel Chavredakis, David Lawson, Michael D. Jenkinson, Philip S. Rudland


BACKGROUND: Understanding the factors that drive recurrence and radiosensitivity in brain metastases would improve prediction of outcomes, treatment planning and development of therapeutics. We investigated the expression of known metastasis-inducing proteins in human brain metastases.

METHODS: Immunohistochemistry on metastases removed at neurosurgery from 138 patients to determine the degree and pattern of expression of the proteins S100A4, S100P, AGR2, osteopontin (OPN) and the DNA repair marker FANCD2. Validation of significant findings in a separate prospective series with the investigation of intra-tumoral heterogeneity using image-guided sampling. Assessment of S100A4 expression in brain metastatic and non-metastatic primary breast carcinomas.

RESULTS: There was widespread staining for OPN, S100A4, S100P and AGR2 in human brain metastases. Positive staining for S100A4 was independently associated with a shorter time to intracranial progression after resection in multivariate analysis (hazard ratio for negative over positive staining=0.17, 95% CI: 0.04–0.74, P=0.018). S100A4 was expressed at the leading edge of brain metastases in image guided sampling and overexpressed in brain metastatic vs non-brain metastatic primary breast carcinomas. Staining for OPN was associated with a significant increase in survival time after post-operative whole-brain radiotherapy in retrospective (OPN negative 3.43 months, 95% CI: 1.36–5.51 vs OPN positive, 11.20 months 95% CI: 7.68–14.72, Log rank test, P<0.001) and validation populations.

CONCLUSIONS: Proteins known to be involved in cellular adhesion and migration in vitro, and metastasis in vivo are significantly expressed in human brain metastases and may be useful biomarkers of intracranial progression and radiosensitivity.

Br J Cancer 2016; 114: 1101–1108. doi:10.1038/bjc.2016.103

Brain metastases (BMs) are common brain tumours in adults with a steeply rising incidence due to the increased use of brain imaging in asymptomatic patients and prolonged survival from solid organ cancers (Owonikoko et al, 2014). There are no known biological markers that are routinely used to predict patient outcomes in BMs. Clinical factors are combined to generate predictions of overall survival (OS), but cannot predict intracranial progression, and the various models are not individualised to each patient, even if different primary cancer types are assessed separately (Sperduto et al, 2010).

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