Background: Neuroblastoma is a heterogeneous pediatric disease. Most patients with localized disease usually have a favorable prognosis, but patients with advanced disease have a poor prognosis despite combination chemotherapy. Treatment failure may be attributable to resistance to cytotoxic drugs.
Procedure: Using quantitative RT-PCR, we investigated the clinical significance of the level of mRNA expression of multidrug resistance genes (MDR1, MRP1, MRP5, LRP) in a series of 29 advanced neuroblastoma samples.
Results: At the end of induction chemotherapy, 48% of patients achieved a clinical complete response, 28% achieved a partial response or stable disease, and 24% presented progressive disease. MDR1 mRNA overexpression (i.e., mRNA level >2 copies of MDR1 gene) was observed in 74% of samples, and MRP1, MRP5, LRP overexpression was observed less frequently (30, 33, and 33% of samples, respectively). None of these parameters were predictive of response, relapse, or survival. However, clinical response to treatment was highly predictive of relapse-free survival and overall survival.
Conclusions: High expression of these multidrug resistance genes in advanced neuroblastoma is not the main parameter of response to cytotoxic drugs; clinical response to treatment remains the most important parameter in predicting the prognosis of patients with advanced neuroblastoma, until other relevant laboratory parameters have been identified.
(c) 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.