Background: We performed a time-course microarray experiment to define the transcriptional response to carboplatin in vitro, and to correlate this with clinical outcome in epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC). RNA was isolated from carboplatin and control-treated 36M2 ovarian cancer cells at several time points, followed by oligonucleotide microarray hybridization. Carboplatin induced changes in gene expression were assessed at the single gene as well as at the pathway level. Clinical validation was performed in publicly available microarray datasets using disease free and overall survival endpoints.
Results: Time-course and pathway analyses identified 317 genes and 40 pathways (designated time-course and pathway signatures) deregulated following carboplatin exposure. Both types of signatures were validated in two separate platinum-treated ovarian and NSCLC cell lines using published microarray data. Expression of time-course and pathway signature genes distinguished between patients with unfavorable and favorable survival in two independent ovarian cancer datasets. Among the pathways most highly induced by carboplatin in vitro, the NRF2, NF-kB, and cytokine and inflammatory response pathways were also found to be upregulated prior to chemotherapy exposure in poor prognosis tumors.
Conclusion: Dynamic assessment of gene expression following carboplatin exposure in vitro can identify both genes and pathways that are correlated with clinical outcome. The functional relevance of this observation for better understanding the mechanisms of drug resistance in EOC will require further evaluation.