Prognostic value of blood mRNA expression signatures in castration-resistant prostate cancer: a prospective, two-stage study

Lancet Oncol. 2012 Nov;13(11):1114-24. doi: 10.1016/S1470-2045(12)70372-8. Epub 2012 Oct 9.


Background: Biomarkers are urgently needed to dissect the heterogeneity of prostate cancer between patients to improve treatment and accelerate drug development. We analysed blood mRNA expression arrays to identify patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer with poorer outcome.

Methods: Whole blood was collected into PAXgene tubes from patients with castration-resistant prostate cancer and patients with prostate cancer selected for active surveillance. In stage I (derivation set), patients with castration-resistant prostate cancer were used as cases and patients under active surveillance were used as controls. These patients were recruited from The Royal Marsden Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (Sutton, UK) and The Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre (Glasgow, UK). In stage II (validation-set), patients with castration-resistant prostate cancer recruited from the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (New York, USA) were assessed. Whole-blood RNA was hybridised to Affymetrix U133plus2 microarrays. Expression profiles were analysed with Bayesian latent process decomposition (LPD) to identify RNA expression profiles associated with castration-resistant prostate cancer subgroups; these profiles were then confirmed by quantative reverse transcriptase (qRT) PCR studies and correlated with overall survival in both the test-set and validation-set.

Findings: LPD analyses of the mRNA expression data divided the evaluable patients in stage I (n=94) into four groups. All patients in LPD1 (14 of 14) and most in LPD2 (17 of 18) had castration-resistant prostate cancer. Patients with castration-resistant prostate cancer and those under active surveillance comprised LPD3 (15 of 31 castration-resistant prostate cancer) and LDP4 (12 of 21 castration-resistant prostate cancer). Patients with castration-resistant prostate cancer in the LPD1 subgroup had features associated with worse prognosis and poorer overall survival than patients with castration-resistant prostate cancer in other LPD subgroups (LPD1 overall survival 10·7 months [95% CI 4·1-17·2] vs non-LPD1 25·6 months [18·0-33·4]; p<0·0001). A nine-gene signature verified by qRT-PCR classified patients into this LPD1 subgroup with a very low percentage of misclassification (1·2%). The ten patients who were initially unclassifiable by the LPD analyses were subclassified by this signature. We confirmed the prognostic utility of this nine-gene signature in the validation castration-resistant prostate cancer cohort, where LPD1 membership was also associated with worse overall survival (LPD1 9·2 months [95% CI 2·1-16·4] vs non-LPD1 21·6 months [7·5-35·6]; p=0·001), and remained an independent prognostic factor in multivariable analyses for both cohorts.

Interpretation: Our results suggest that whole-blood gene profiling could identify gene-expression signatures that stratify patients with castration-resistant prostate cancer into distinct prognostic groups.

Funding: AstraZeneca, Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre, Prostate Cancer Charity, Prostate Cancer Foundation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood*
  • Castration
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / genetics
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Grading
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Prostatic Neoplasms* / blood
  • Prostatic Neoplasms* / pathology
  • RNA, Messenger / blood*
  • Survival Analysis


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • RNA, Messenger