Skip to main content

02-05-2018 | Urothelial cancer | Article

Treatment resistance in urothelial carcinoma: an evolutionary perspective

Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology

Authors: Panagiotis J. Vlachostergios, Bishoy M. Faltas

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group UK


The emergence of treatment-resistant clones is a critical barrier to cure in patients with urothelial carcinoma. Setting the stage for the evolution of resistance, urothelial carcinoma is characterized by extensive mutational heterogeneity, which is detectable even in patients with early stage disease. Chemotherapy and immunotherapy both act as selective pressures that shape the evolutionary trajectory of urothelial carcinoma throughout the course of the disease. A detailed understanding of the dynamics of evolutionary drivers is required for the rational development of curative therapies. Herein, we describe the molecular basis of the clonal evolution of urothelial carcinomas and the use of genomic approaches to predict treatment responses. We discuss various mechanisms of resistance to chemotherapy with a focus on the mutagenic effects of the DNA dC->dU-editing enzymes APOBEC3 family of proteins. We also review the evolutionary mechanisms underlying resistance to immunotherapy, such as the loss of clonal tumour neoantigens. By dissecting treatment resistance through an evolutionary lens, the field will advance towards true precision medicine for urothelial carcinoma.

Please log in to get access to this content

Related topics