Several studies have demonstrated that the p75NTR low-affinity receptor of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF), is produced in abnormally large amounts in several human cancer types. However, the role of p75NTR varies substantially depending on cell context, so that a dual role of this receptor protein in tumor cell survival and invasion, as well as cell death, has been supported in recent studies. Herein we explored for the first time the expression of p75NTR in human specimens (nr = 40) from testicular germ cell tumors (TGCTs), mostly seminomas. Nuclear overexpression of p75NTR was detected by immunohistochemistry in seminoma tissue as compared to normal tissue, whereas neither NGF nor its high-affinity TrkA receptor was detected. An increased nuclear staining of phospho-JNK, belonging to the p75NTR signaling pathway and its pro-apoptotic target gene, p53, was concomitantly observed. Interestingly, our analysis revealed that decreased expression frequency of p75NTR, p-JNK and p53 was related to staging progression, thus suggesting that p75NTR may represent a specific marker for seminoma and staging in TGCTs.
Keywords: human seminoma; p75 neurotrophin receptor (p75NTR); p75NTR-signaling; testicular germ cell tumors (TGCTs).