Purpose: To understand the role of nuclear factor erythroid-2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) and Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (Keap1) in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), we studied their expression in a large series of tumors with annotated clinicopathologic data, including response to platinum-based adjuvant chemotherapy. Experimental Design: We determined the immunohistochemical expression of nuclear Nrf2 and cytoplasmic Keap1 in 304 NSCLCs and its association with patients' clinicopathologic characteristics, and in 89 tumors from patients who received neoadjuvant (n = 26) or adjuvant platinum-based chemotherapy (n = 63). We evaluated NFE2L2 and KEAP1 mutations in 31 tumor specimens. Results: We detected nuclear Nrf2 expression in 26% of NSCLCs; it was significantly more common in squamous cell carcinomas (38%) than in adenocarcinomas (18%; P < 0.0001). Low or absent Keap1 expression was detected in 56% of NSCLCs; it was significantly more common in adenocarcinomas (62%) than in squamous cell carcinomas (46%; P = 0.0057). In NSCLC, mutations of NFE2L2 and KEAP1 were very uncommon (2 of 29 and 1 of 31 cases, respectively). In multivariate analysis, Nrf2 expression was associated with worse overall survival [P = 0.0139; hazard ratio (HR), 1.75] in NSCLC patients, and low or absent Keap1 expression was associated with worse overall survival (P = 0.0181; HR, 2.09) in squamous cell carcinoma. In univariate analysis, nuclear Nrf2 expression was associated with worse recurrence-free survival in squamous cell carcinoma patients who received adjuvant treatment (P = 0.0410; HR, 3.37). Conclusions: Increased expression of Nrf2 and decreased expression of Keap1 are common abnormalities in NSCLC and are associated with a poor outcome. Nuclear expression of Nrf2 in malignant lung cancer cells may play a role in resistance to platinum-based treatment in squamous cell carcinoma.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research