Background: Median overall survival (OS) for women with high-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC) is ∼4 years, yet survival varies widely between patients. There are no well-established, gene expression signatures associated with prognosis. The aim of this study was to develop a robust prognostic signature for OS in patients with HGSOC.
Patients and methods: Expression of 513 genes, selected from a meta-analysis of 1455 tumours and other candidates, was measured using NanoString technology from formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tumour tissue collected from 3769 women with HGSOC from multiple studies. Elastic net regularization for survival analysis was applied to develop a prognostic model for 5-year OS, trained on 2702 tumours from 15 studies and evaluated on an independent set of 1067 tumours from six studies.
Results: Expression levels of 276 genes were associated with OS (false discovery rate < 0.05) in covariate-adjusted single-gene analyses. The top five genes were TAP1, ZFHX4, CXCL9, FBN1 and PTGER3 (P < 0.001). The best performing prognostic signature included 101 genes enriched in pathways with treatment implications. Each gain of one standard deviation in the gene expression score conferred a greater than twofold increase in risk of death [hazard ratio (HR) 2.35, 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.02-2.71; P < 0.001]. Median survival [HR (95% CI)] by gene expression score quintile was 9.5 (8.3 to -), 5.4 (4.6-7.0), 3.8 (3.3-4.6), 3.2 (2.9-3.7) and 2.3 (2.1-2.6) years.
Conclusion: The OTTA-SPOT (Ovarian Tumor Tissue Analysis consortium - Stratified Prognosis of Ovarian Tumours) gene expression signature may improve risk stratification in clinical trials by identifying patients who are least likely to achieve 5-year survival. The identified novel genes associated with the outcome may also yield opportunities for the development of targeted therapeutic approaches.
Keywords: formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded; gene expression; high-grade serous ovarian cancer; overall survival; prognosis.
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