Cancer/testis antigens (CT antigens) are thought to be suitable targets for antigen-specific immunotherapy, because of the cancer-specific expression except for the testis among various normal tissues and no-expression of HLA class I in the testis. In the present study, the expressions of CT antigens (MAGE-A3, MAGE-A4, NY-ESO-1 and KK-LC-1) in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) were analyzed by RT-PCR. The subjects were 239 patients with NSCLC who underwent surgery from 2001 to 2005 in our department. The expression rates of MAGE-A3, MAGE-A4, NY-ESO-1 and KK-LC-1 were 23.8%, 20.1%, 10.5% and 32.6% in patients with NSCLC, respectively. MAGE-A4 was expressed more frequently in male (25.3%) than in female (10.6%) (p<0.01). The positive proportion of MAGE-A4 was higher in stages II-IV (30.6%) than in stage I (12.8%) (p<0.01). Both of MAGE-A3 and MAGE-A4 were expressed more frequently in squamous cell carcinoma than in adenocarcinoma (p<0.01). Such tendency was not observed among NY-ESO-1 and KK-LC-1 expression. KK-LC-1 was expressed in 32.1% of patients with adenocarcinoma and in 36.5% of patients with squamous cell carcinoma. Patients with positive MAGE-A4 expression showed significantly poorer overall survival than those without MAGE-A4 expression (p=0.013), and such effect on survival was also observed, when the analysis was limited to patients at stage I (p=0.0037). Expression of MAGE-A3, NY-ESO-1 or KK-LC-1 did not affect survival of patients with NSCLC significantly, however, expression of at least one of such CT antigens negatively affect survival of patients with NSCLC (p=0.045).
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