Background: Despite undergoing curative resection, nearly a third of patients with stage I non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) die of recurrent disease. There are no reliable clinical or molecular predictors of relapse in patients with resected stage I NSCLC. Identifying patients at risk for relapse after surgical resection is one of the important challenges today. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) regulate hundreds of genes central to maintaining a cancer phenotype. Methods: In an exploratory study, we determined whether expression of six miRNAs (let-7a, miR-7, miR-21, miR-155, miR-210, and miR-221) previously reported to correlate with invasiveness or outcome in various human malignancies were associated with tumor recurrence in patients with resected stage I NSCLC. We measured expression of these miRNAs in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue from both tumor and matched normal lung in a set of 46 patients with surgically resected T1 or T2 stage I NSCLC. Results: Averaged triplicate data showed that tumors which recurred had 0.14-fold lower miR-221 expression than those which did not recur (p = 0.0036). In addition, increased miR-221in tumor tissue when compared with adjacent normal appearing lung in the same patient also correlated with nonrecurrence (p = 0.0011). Parallel measurement of expression of selected downstream target genes regulated by miR-221, specifically, CDKN1B, CDKN1C, paralemmin-2, and CXCL12, showed a near significant (p = 0.0522) down-regulation of CDKN1C in tumors of patients with no recurrent disease, consistent with increased miR-221 activity in the same group. Conclusion: If confirmed in prospective studies, miRNA expression in resected NSCLC could potentially identify those at high risk of relapse after surgery.
- Non-small cell lung cancer
- Stage I