Introduction: Understanding oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes expression patterns is essential for characterizing lung cancer pathogenesis. We have previously demonstrated that mGprc5a/hGPRC5A is a lung-specific tumor suppressor evidenced by inflammation-mediated tumorigenesis in Gprc5a-knockout mice. The implication of GPRC5A in human lung cancer pathogenesis, including that associated with inflammatory chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a risk factor for the malignancy, remains elusive.
Methods: We sought to examine GPRC5A immunohistochemical expression in histologically normal bronchial epithelia (NBE) from lung disease-free never- and ever-smokers (n = 13 and n = 18, respectively), from COPD patients with (n = 26) and without cancer (n = 24) and in non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) (n = 474). Quantitative assessment of GPRC5A transcript expression in airways (n = 6), adjacent NBEs (n = 29) and corresponding tumors (n = 6) from 6 NSCLC patients was also performed.
Results: GPRC5A immunohistochemical expression was significantly lower in tumors compared to uninvolved NBE (p < 0.0001) and was positively associated with adenocarcinoma histology (p < 0.001). GPRC5A airway expression was highest in lung disease-free NBE, decreased and intermediate in NBE of cancer-free COPD patients (p = 0.004) and further attenuated and lowest in epithelia of COPD patients with adenocarcinoma and SCC (p < 0.0001). Furthermore, GPRC5A mRNA was significantly decreased in NSCLCs and corre sponding NBE compared to uninvolved normal lung (p = 0.03).
Conclusions: Our findings highlight decreased GPRC5A expression in the field cancerization of NSCLC, including that associated with lung inflammation. Assessment of the use of GPRC5A expression as a risk factor for NSCLC development in COPD patients is warranted.