Background: The expression of the insulin-like growth factor (IGF) system has never been studied in gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs).
Patients and methods: We studied the immunohistochemical expression of IGF1 receptor (IGFR-I), IGF1 and IGF2 in 94 samples of GISTs. IGF1 and IGF2 expression was scored in three classes: negative (N), moderate (M) and strong (S), according to staining intensity and extent.
Results: IGFR-I was overexpressed in all cases. IGF1 and IGF2 expression was absent in 25 and 48 cases, moderate in 29 and 16 cases and strong in 40 and 30 cases, respectively. Strong IGF1 expression significantly correlated with higher mitotic index (P = 0.0001), larger (P = 0.01), higher risk (P = 0.0002), metastatic (P = 0.0001) and relapsed (P = 0.04) GISTs. Strong IGF2 expression correlated with higher mitotic index (P = 0.05) and higher risk GISTs (P = 0.001). The Kaplan-Meier analysis (N versus M versus S) showed a significant worsening of the disease-free survival (DFS) with the increase of IGF1 (P = 0.02) and IGF2 (P = 0.02) expression. In the subgroup of patients with operated high-risk GISTs, there was a better trend in DFS for patients affected by GISTs with negative IGF1 and IGF2.
Conclusions: The expression of IGF1 and IGF2 seems to predict relapse in GIST patients.