Claudins (CLDNs) are central components of tight junctions that regulate epithelial-cell barrier function and polarity. Altered CLDN expression patterns have been demonstrated in numerous cancer types and lineage-specific CLDNs have been proposed as therapy targets. The objective of this study was to assess which fraction of patients with non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) express CLDN6 and CLDN18 isoform 2 (CLDN18.2). Protein expression of CLDN6 and CLDN18.2 was examined by immunohistochemistry on a tissue microarray (n = 355) and transcript levels were supportively determined based on gene expression microarray data from fresh-frozen NSCLC tissues (n = 196). Both were analyzed with regard to frequency, distribution and association with clinical parameters. Immunohistochemical analysis of tissue sections revealed distinct membranous positivity of CLDN6 (6.5%) and CLDN18.2 (3.7%) proteins in virtually non-overlapping subgroups of adenocarcinomas and large-cell carcinomas. Pneumocytes and bronchial epithelial cells were consistently negative. Corresponding to the protein expression, in subsets of non-squamous lung carcinoma high mRNA levels of CLDN6 (7-16%) and total CLDN18 (5-12%) were observed. Protein expression correlated well with total mRNA expression of the corresponding gene (rho = 0.4-0.8). CLDN18.2 positive tumors were enriched among slowly proliferating, thyroid transcription factor 1 (TTF-1)-negative adenocarcinomas, suggesting that isoform-specific CLDN expression may delineate a specific subtype. Noteworthy, high CLDN6 protein expression was associated with worse prognosis in lung adenocarcinoma in the univariate [hazard ratio (HR): 1.8; p = 0.03] and multivariate COX regression model (HR: 1.9; p = 0.02). These findings encourage further clinical exploration of targeting ectopically activated CLDN expression as a valuable treatment concept in NSCLC.
Keywords: claudin; gene expression profiling; non-small-cell lung cancer; targeted therapy; tissue microarray.
© 2014 UICC.