Aims: To investigate the role of DNA repair proteins and their prognostic significance in non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
Methods and results: A retrospective analysis of 108 cases of stage I-II NSCLC was undertaken. Immunohistochemical expression of DNA repair proteins MLH1, MSH2 and MGMT was assessed using tissue microarrays of paraffin-embedded samples of invasive carcinoma and precursor lesions. Results were analysed in relation to clinicopathological parameters and patient survival. Reduced expression of MLH1 was found in 58.5% of tumours and occurred less frequently in poorly differentiated tumours (P = 0.044) and large cell carcinomas (P = 0.004). MSH2 and MGMT expression was reduced in 18.1% and 77.8% of cases, respectively. There was an inverse relationship between MLH1 and MSH2 expression (P = 0.012). Normal expression of MLH1, MSH2 and MGMT was found in all cases of squamous metaplasia and squamous dysplasia. Only a single case of carcinoma in situ (12.5%) showed reduced MLH1, none showed reduced MSH2 and 25% showed reduced MGMT. Survival analyses showed no prognostic significance based on expression of MLH1 (P = 0.92), MSH2 (P = 0.78) or MGMT (P = 0.57).
Conclusions: Reduction in expression of DNA repair proteins MLH1, MSH2 and MGMT is relatively common in NSCLC, appears to be a late event in the development of invasive malignancy and does not influence survival in this patient cohort.