The promalignant effects of neurotensin (NTS) are sustained in many solid tumors, including hormone-dependent cancers. As the endometrium is also subjected to hormonal regulation, we evaluated the contribution of NTS to endometrial carcinogenesis. Neurotensin receptor 1 (NTSR1) expression and NTSR1 promoter methylation (HM450) were analyzed in 385 cases of endometrial carcinoma from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). Additionally, from a series of 100 endometrial carcinomas, and 66 benign endometrium samples, NTS and NTSR1 labeling was evaluated by immunohistochemistry. Using TCGA series, NTSR1 messenger RNA (mRNA) level was negatively correlated with overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS) (p = 0.0012 and p = 0.0116, respectively), and positively correlated with the grade (p = 0.0008). When including only endometrioid carcinomas, NTSR1 mRNA level continued to be negatively correlated with OS (log-rank: p < 0.0001) and PFS (log-rank: p = 0.002). A higher NTSR1 mRNA level was significantly associated with a loss of NTSR1 promoter methylation. Immunohistochemical expression of NTS and NTSR1 was significantly increased in adenocarcinoma (n = 100), as compared to benign endometrium (p < 0.001). NTSR1 expression was positively correlated with grade (p = 0.004). High immunohistochemical expression of cytoplasmic NTSR1 was significantly correlated with a shorter OS and PFS (p < 0.001 and p = 0.001, respectively). This correlation remained significant when excluding non-endometrioid subtypes (p = 0.04 and p = 0.02, respectively). In multivariate analysis, the expression of NTSR1 was an independent prognostic factor (p = 0.004). NTSR1 overexpression is a poor prognostic factor in endometrial cancer, highlighting the contribution of NTS in endometrial cancer progression and its uses as a prognostic marker, and as a potential therapeutic target.
Keywords: Cancer; Endometrial adenocarcinoma; Endometrium; NTSR1; Neurotensin.