Background: The purpose of this study was to determine if the expression of the chemokine receptors, CXCR4 and CCR7, and the chemokine ligand, CXCL12, in completely resected colorectal cancer hepatic metastases are predictive of disease-specific survival, recurrence-free survival and patterns of recurrence. Methods: Immunohistochemical analysis of CXCR4, CCR7 and CXCL12 expression within resected hepatic metastases was performed and correlated with clinicopathological variables, disease-specific survival, recurrence-free survival and patterns of recurrence. Results: Seventy-five patients who underwent partial hepatectomy with curative intent were studied. CXCR4 expression (hazard ratio [HR] 3.6, 95% confidence interval [95% CI] 1.4-9.1) and clinical risk score >2 (HR 2.3, 95% CI 1.1-4.7) were independently associated with disease-specific survival by multivariate analysis. The 5-year estimated disease-specific survival rates for positive and negative CXCR4 tumor expression were 44 and 77%, respectively (P = 0.005). CXCR4 expression (HR 2.2, 95% CI 1.2-4.2) and clinical risk score >2 (HR 1.9, 95% CI 1.1-3.4) were independently associated with recurrence-free survival by multivariate analysis. The five year estimated recurrence-free survival rates for positive and negative CXCR4 tumor expression were 20 and 50%, respectively (P = 0.004). Neither CXCL12 nor CCR7 expression in tumors predicted disease-specific survival or recurrence-free survival. Forty-nine patients (65%) developed recurrent disease after initial hepatectomy. Negative CXCR4 tumor expression was associated with favorable recurrence patterns amenable to salvage resection and/or ablation. Conclusions: Negative CXCR4 expression in resected colorectal cancer hepatic metastases is independently associated with improved disease-specific and recurrence-free survival and favorable patterns of recurrence.
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