Retinoid receptors in gastric cancer: expression and influence on prognosis

Published on Monday, 15 December 2014


BACKGROUND: Gastric cancer is frequently lethal despite aggressive multimodal therapies, and new treatment approaches are therefore needed. Retinoids are potential candidate drugs: they prevent cell differentiation, proliferation and malignant transformation in gastric cancer cell lines. They interact with nuclear retinoid receptors (the retinoic acid receptors [RARs] and retinoid X receptors [RXRs]), which function as transcription factors, each with three subclasses, α, β and γ. At present, little is known about retinoid expression and influence on prognosis in gastric cancers.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: We retrospectively analyzed the expression of the subtypes RARα, RARβ, RARγ, RXRα, RXRβ, RXRγ by immunohistochemistry in 147 gastric cancers and 51 normal gastric epithelium tissues for whom clinical follow-up data were available and correlated the results with clinical characteristics. In addition, we quantified the expression of retinoid receptor mRNA using real- time PCR (RT-PCR) in another 6 gastric adenocarcinoma and 3 normal gastric tissues. From 2008 to 2010, 80 patients with gastric cancers were enrolled onto therapy with all-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA).

RESULTS: RARα, RARβ, RARγ and RXRγ positively correlated with each other (p<0.001) and demonstrated significantly lower levels in the carcinoma tissue sections (p < 0.01), with lower RARβ, RARγ and RXRα expression significantly related to advanced stages (p ≤ 0.01). Tumors with poor histopathologic grade had lower levels of RARα and RARβ in different histological types of gastric carcinoma (p < 0.01). Patients whose tumors exhibited low levels of RARa expression had significantly lower overall survival compared with patients who had higher expression levels of this receptor (p < 0.001, HR=0.42, 95.0% CI 0.24-0.73), and patients undergoing ATRA treatment had significantly longer median survival times (p=0.007, HR=0.41, 95.0% CI 0.21-0.80).

CONCLUSIONS: Retinoic acid receptors are frequently expressed in epithelial gastric cancer with a decreased tendency of expression and RARa may be an indicator of a positive prognosis. This study provides a molecular basis for the therapeutic use of retinoids against gastric cancer.



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See also All-Trans-Retinoic Acid (ATRA - analogues and/or derivatives).