Epithelioid Mesothelioma Patients with Very Long Survival Display Defects in DNA Repair

Cancers 2023 August 29 [Link]

Monica Ganzinelli, Federica Guffanti, Anna Ianza, Navid Sobhani, Sergio Crovella, Fabrizio Zanconati, Cristina Bottin, Marco Confalonieri, Stefano Fumagalli, Alessandra Guglielmi, Daniele Generali, Giovanna Damia


Aim: DNA repair has an important role in malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) tumorigenesis and progression. Prognostic/predictive biomarkers for better management of MPM patients are needed. In the present manuscript, we analyzed the expression of more than 700 genes in a cohort of MPM patients to possibly find biomarkers correlated with survival.

Methods: A total of 54 MPM patients, all with epithelioid histology, whose survival follow-up and formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tumors were available, were included in the study. Gene expression profiles were evaluated using a Nanostring platform analyzing 760 genes involved in different cellular pathways. The percentages of proliferating tumor cells positive for RAD51 and BRCA1 foci were evaluated using an immunofluorescence assay, as a readout of homologous recombination repair status.

Results: Patient median survival time was 16.9 months, and based on this value, they were classified as long and short survivors (LS/SS) with, respectively, an overall survival ≥ and <16.9 months as well as very long and very short survivors (VLS/VSS) with an overall survival ≥ than 33.8 and < than 8.45 months. A down-regulation in the DNA damage/repair expression score was observed in LS and VLS as compared to SS and VSS. These findings were validated by the lower number of both RAD51 and BRCA1-positive tumor cells in VLS as compared to VSS.

Conclusions: The down-regulation of DNA repair signature in VLS was functionally validated by a lower % of RAD51 and BRCA1-positive tumor cells. If these data can be corroborated in a prospective trial, an easy, cost-effective test could be routinely used to better manage treatment in MPM patients.