Purpose: The MET receptor is involved in the pathogenesis and progression of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Clinical trials with MET inhibitors in NSCLC are planned with patient selection based on immunohistochemistry (IHC) and/or gene copy number assessment. Therefore, a detailed understanding of relationship between these markers and prognosis is essential.
Methods: This study included tumors from 189 patients with NSCLC who underwent pulmonary resection (median follow-up, 5.3 years). MET expression was evaluated by IHC on tissue microarrays and scored according to hybrid (H) score (range: 0-400) and by scoring system used in the MetMAb trial (≥ 50% of cells with moderate or strong staining). MET gene copy number was assessed by silver in situ hybridization (n =140 patients).
Results: Median MET IHC H score was 60 (range: 0-400; n =174). There were no associations between clinical and pathological characteristics, disease-free survival, and overall survival according to median value (p =0.36 and p =0.38, respectively), or other cut-points. According to MetMAb scoring criteria, IHC positivity rate was 25%, again with no associations to clinicopathological features or survival. In 140 tumors evaluable for MET copy number, 3 (2.1%) showed gene amplification and 14 (10%) had tumors with average of 5 or more copies per nucleus. There were no associations of MET copy number with clinical characteristics, disease-free survival, or overall survival with any analyzed cut-points. Correlation between MET copy number and protein expression was significant (Pearson's r =0.42, p < 0.0001).
Conclusions: There is a significant correlation between MET protein expression and MET gene copy number in operable NSCLC, but neither is associated with prognosis.