A prognostic factor is a marker or a feature that can be used to estimate the risk of recurrence of disease, metastatic spread and clinical outcome. Despite intensive search for more sophisticated markers in renal cell carcinoma (RCC), few have added prognostic information to earlier described factors like stage of disease, nuclear grade, tumour type, and in metastatic disease; performance status, anaemia, hypercalcaemia and increased erythrocyte sedimentation. In the dominating tumour type, clear cell renal RCC (cRCC), hypoxia is common, leading to an up-regulation of hypoxia inducible factor (HIF). The majority of cRCC have a mutation in the von Hippel Lindau gene (VHL-gene), which regulates HIF and in turn leads to up-regulation of a number of target genes for potential growth factors. The aim of the study was to evaluate the possible prognostic information of a few factors associated to pVHL/HIF, anemia and/or hypercalcaemia in RCC; erythropoietin (EPO) and it´s receptor (EPO-R), carbonic anhydrase IX (CA IX), parathyroid hormone-related protein (PTHrP) and osteopontin (OPN).
Patients diagnosed with RCC between 1982-2007 were included in the studies. The tumour tissue expressions of EPO, EPO-R and PTHrP were assessed using immunohistochemistry. Serum/plasma levels of EPO, CA IX, PTHrP and OPN were also analyzed using immunometric methods.
Our study demonstrated that the expression of EPO and EPO-R were related, and the expressions differed significantly between RCC types. The serum EPO levels did not associate to the tumour expression of EPO or EPO-R, indicating that circulating EPO derives from other sources than tumour cells. Erythropietin receptor expression was more frequent in advanced stages of disease, but neither EPO, nor EPO-R, were independent prognostic factors for survival.
Serum CA IX levels were higher in cRCC compared to papillary RCC (pRCC). In cRCC, the CA IX serum levels correlated positively to TNM stage, but serum CA IX did not add independent prognostic information.
Parathyroid hormone-related protein is a cause of hypercalcaemia in malignancy, and we observed that circulating PTHrP related to hypercalcaemia in RCC. The tumour expression of PTHrP associated positively to serum PTHrP, but not to serum calcium. We found an association between PTHrP and OPN in plasma, and both plasma PTHrP and OPN were positively associated to TNM stage. Neither serum/plasma PTHrP nor tumour expression of PTHrP were independent prognostic factors for survival. The serum OPN levels were higher in pRCC but no impact on survival was observed in this RCC type. In contrast, plasma/serum OPN was an independent prognostic factor for disease-specific survival in cRCC.
Our results support a role for these factors in RCC. The expressions vary between tumour types, which can be explained by different gene aberrations. Some of the factors have a close relation to para-malignant symptoms like hypercalcaemia. Most of the factors correlate positively to TNM-stage, reflecting a relation to advanced disease. Although expression of EPO, EPO-R, PTHrP and CA IX did not add independent prognostic information, the results might contribute to greater understanding of important mechanisms and associations in RCC.
Osteopontin is a strong independent prognostic factor in cRCC, and should be further evaluated as a tool in the clinic when treating RCC patients.
Umeå: Umeå universitet , 2011. , 48 p.
2011-03-11, Bergasalen, Byggnad 27, Norrlands universitetssjukhus, Umeå, 09:00 (Swedish)