Background: In a previously published report we characterized the expression of the metastasis-associated proteins S100A4, osteopontin (OPN) and ephrin-A1 in a prospectively collected panel of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) tumors. The aim of the present follow-up study was to investigate the prognostic impact of these potential biomarkers in the same patient cohort. In addition, circulating serum levels of OPN were measured and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) in the -443 position of the OPN promoter were analyzed.
Methods: Associations between immunohistochemical expression of S100A4, OPN and ephrin-A1 and relapse free and overall survival were examined using univariate and multivariate analyses. Serum OPN was measured by ELISA, polymorphisms in the -443 position of the tumor OPN promoter were analyzed by PCR, and associations between OPN levels and promoter polymorphisms and clinicopathological parameters and patient outcome were investigated.
Results: High expression of OPN in NSCLC tumors was associated with poor patient outcome, and OPN was a strong, independent prognostic factor for both relapse free and overall survival. Serum OPN levels increased according to tumor pT classification and tumor size, and patients with OPN-expressing tumors had higher serum levels than patients with OPN-negative tumors. S100A4 was a negative prognostic factor in several subgroups of adenocarcinoma patients, but not in the overall patient cohort. There was no association between ephrin-A1 expression and patient outcome.
Conclusions: OPN is a promising prognostic biomarker in NSCLC, and should be further explored in the selection of patients for adjuvant treatment following surgical resection.