Introduction: Neuroectodermal tumors in general demonstrate high and dense expression of the somatostatin receptor subtype 2 (sst₂). It controls proliferation of both normal and neoplastic cells. sst₂ has thus been suggested as a therapeutic target and prognostic marker for certain malignancies.
Methods: To assess global expression patterns of sst 2 mRNA, we evaluated normal (n = 353) and tumor tissues (n = 340) derived from previously published gene expression profiling studies. These analyses demonstrated specific upregulation of sst 2 mRNA in medulloblastoma (p < 0.001). sst₂ protein was investigated by immunohistochemistry in two independent cohorts.
Results: Correlation of sst₂ protein expression with clinicopathological variables revealed significantly higher levels in medulloblastoma (p < 0.05) compared with CNS-PNET, ependymoma, or pilocytic astrocytoma. The non-SHH medulloblastoma subgroup tumors showed particularly high expression of sst₂, when compared to other tumors and normal tissues. Furthermore, we detected a significant survival benefit in children with tumors exhibiting high sst₂ expression (p = 0.02) in this screening set. A similar trend was observed in a validation cohort including 240 independent medulloblastoma samples.
Conclusion: sst₂ is highly expressed in medulloblastoma and deserves further evaluation in the setting of prospective trials, given its potential utility as a prognostic marker and a therapeutic target.