Background: Bone metastases (BMs) are associated with poor outcome in metastatic clear-cell renal carcinoma (m-ccRCC) treated with anti-vascular endothelial growth factor tyrosine kinase inhibitors (anti-VEGFR-TKIs). We aimed to investigate whether expression in the primary tumour of genes involved in the development of BM is associated with outcome in m-ccRCC patients treated with anti-VEGFR-TKIs.
Methods: Metastatic clear-cell renal cell carcinoma patients with available fresh-frozen tumour and treated with anti-VEGFR-TKIs. Quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) for receptor activator of NF-kB (RANK), RANK-ligand (RANKL), osteoprotegerin (OPG), the proto-oncogene SRC and DKK1 (Dickkopf WNT signalling pathway inhibitor-1). Time-to-event analysis by Kaplan-Meier estimates and Cox regression.
Results: We included 129 m-ccRCC patients treated between 2005 and 2013. An elevated RANK/OPG ratio was associated with shorter median time to metastasis (HR 0.50 (95% CI 0.29-0.87); P=0.014), shorter time to BM (HR 0.54 (95% CI 0.31-0.97); P=0.037), shorter median overall survival (mOS) since initial diagnosis (HR 2.27 (95% CI 1.44-3.60); P=0.0001), shorter median progression-free survival (HR 0.44 (95% CI 0.28-0.71); P=0.001) and mOS (HR 0.31 (95% CI 0.19-0.52); P<0.0001) on first-line anti-VEGFR-TKIs in the metastatic setting. Higher RANK expression was associated with shorter mOS on first-line anti-VEGFR-TKIs (HR 0.46 (95% CI 0.29-0.73); P=0.001).
Conclusions: RANK/OPG ratio of expression in primary ccRCC is associated with BM and prognosis in patients treated with anti-VEGFR-TKIs. Prospective validation is warranted.