Molecular changes in mesothelioma with an impact on prognosis and treatment

Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2012 Mar;136(3):277-93. doi: 10.5858/arpa.2011-0215-RA.


Context: In recent decades, research on malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) has been developed to improve patients' outcomes by increasing the level of confidence in MPM diagnosis and prognosis.

Objective: To summarize data on genetic and epigenetic abnormalities in MPM that may be of interest for a better management of patients with MPM.

Data sources: Data were obtained from scientific publications on genetic and epigenetic abnormalities in MPM by studying gene mutations, DNA methylation, and gene and microRNA expression profiling.

Conclusions: Molecular changes in MPM consist in altered expression and in activation or inactivation of critical genes in oncogenesis, especially tumor suppressor genes at the INK4 and NF2 loci. Activation of membrane receptor tyrosine kinases and deregulation of signaling pathways related to differentiation, survival, proliferation, apoptosis, cell cycle control, metabolism, migration, and invasion have been demonstrated. Alterations that could be targeted at a global level (methylation) have been recently reported. Experimental research has succeeded especially in abolishing proliferation and triggering apoptosis in MPM cells. So far, targeted clinical approaches focusing on receptor tyrosine kinases have had limited success. Molecular analyses of series of MPM cases have shown that defined alterations are present in MPM subsets, consistent with interindividual variations of molecular alterations, and suggesting that identification of patient subgroups will be essential to develop more specific therapies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chromosome Aberrations*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • DNA Methylation*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Mesothelioma / diagnosis
  • Mesothelioma / genetics*
  • Mesothelioma / therapy
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • Pleural Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Pleural Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Pleural Neoplasms / therapy
  • Prognosis
  • Signal Transduction / genetics


  • MicroRNAs