Several biochemical and clinical factors have been shown to correlate with survival in human malignant pleural mesothelioma (MM). Nevertheless, average survival of 4 to 10 months from diagnosis is sometimes not sufficient for full expression of these factors. Several studies have reported SV40 sequences in MM, suggesting a possible pathogenic role. We investigated whether the presence of these sequences had any effect on MM patient survival. For this study, we used polymerase chain reaction and Southern blot analysis to search for and identify SV40 DNA in biopsy samples from 83 MM patients. These cases were divided according to histology: 62/83 (74. 7%) had epithelioid morphology (EMM) and 21/83 (25.3%) had either biphasic or sarcomatous morphology (B/SMM). SV40 positivity was significantly associated with B/SMM growth pattern (chi-squared test = 5.03, P = 0.025). Kaplan-Meier univariate analysis confirmed the independent effect of histology on MM survival (log-rank test = 13.9, P < 0.001) and showed a trend for increased survival in SV40-negative patients (log-rank test = 2.83, P = 0.09). Most importantly, Cox's regression model showed that SV40-positive status affected the predictive value of histology on patient survival. In particular, when SV40 expression was added to the B/SMM histotype, Cox's regression model showed a significant increase in hazard ratio (HR) with respect to SV40-negative B/SMM (HR = 4.25, 95% CI = 2.00-9. 00, likelihood ratio test = 14.31, P < 0.001). We conclude that SV40 expression is significantly associated with B/SMM histology and represents an important prognostic cofactor when associated with the tumor subtype in MM patients.
Copyright 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.