Functional studies on colorectal cancer cells indicated a protective role of the interferon-inducible dsDNA sensor Absent in Melanoma 2 (AIM2) in cancer progression. Given that a high mutation rate and lack of AIM2 expression was previously detected in a subset of colorectal cancers, we here investigated the association of AIM2 expression in tumor cells and patient prognosis (5-year follow-up). A tissue microarray analysis of 476 matched tissue pairs (colorectal tumor and adjacent normal colon epithelium) was performed by two independent observers. Samples from 62 patients were excluded because of missing follow-up information or due to neo-adjuvant therapy before tissue sampling. Out of the remaining 414 tissue pairs, 279 (67.4%) displayed reduced AIM2 expression in cancer cells when compared to epithelial cells of their normal counterpart. Thirty-eight patients (9.18%) had completely lost AIM2 expression in tumor cells. After adjustment for sex, age, cancer stage, tumor site, tumor grade and chemotherapy, complete lack of AIM2 expression was associated with an up to 3-fold increase in overall mortality (HR=2.40; 95% CI=1.44-3.99) and disease specific mortality (HR=3.14; 95% CI=1.75-5.65) in comparison to AIM2-positive tumor samples. Our results demonstrate that lack of AIM2 expression is closely associated with poor outcome in colorectal cancer. The data thus strongly substantiate a protective role of AIM2 against progression of colorectal tumors. Further studies are required to assess whether lack of AIM2 expression may be used as a biomarker for the identification of colorectal cancer patients with poor prognosis.
Keywords: cancer prognosis; inflammation; interferon (IFN); tissue microarray; tumor marker.
© 2014 UICC.