Background: Gene signatures measured in a biopsy have been proposed as hypoxia biomarkers in prostate cancer. We assessed a previously developed signature, and aimed to determine its relationship to hypoxia and its heterogeneity within the dominant (index) lesion of prostate cancer.
Methods: The 32-gene signature was assessed from gene expression data of 141 biopsies from the index lesion of 94 patients treated with prostatectomy. A gene score calculated from the expression levels was applied in the analyses. Hypoxic fraction from pimonidazole immunostained whole-mount and biopsy sections was used as reference standard for hypoxia.
Results: The gene score was correlated with pimonidazole-defined hypoxic fraction in whole-mount sections, and the two parameters showed almost equal association with clinical markers of tumour aggressiveness. Based on the gene score, incorrect classification according to hypoxic fraction in whole-mount sections was seen in one third of the patients. The incorrect classifications were apparently not due to intra-tumour heterogeneity, since the score had low heterogeneity compared to pimonidazole-defined hypoxic fraction in biopsies. The score showed prognostic significance in uni-and multivariate analysis in independent cohorts.
Conclusions: Our signature from the index lesion reflects tumour hypoxia and predicts prognosis in prostate cancer, independent of intra-tumour heterogeneity in pimonidazole-defined hypoxia.
© 2022. The Author(s).