Oncotarget 2018 April 27 [Link]

Mairinger FD, Schmeller J, Borchert S, Wessolly M, Mairinger E, Kollmeier J, Hager T, Mairinger T, Christoph DC, Walter RFH, Eberhardt WEE, Plönes T, Wohlschlaeger J, Jasani B, Schmid KW, Bankfalvi A


Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is a biologically highly aggressive tumor arising from the pleura with a dismal prognosis. Cisplatin is the drug of choice for the treatment of MPM, and carboplatin seems to have comparable efficacy. Nevertheless, cisplatin treatment results in a response rate of merely 14% and a median survival of less than seven months. Due to their role in many cellular processes, methallothioneins (MTs) have been widely studied in various cancers. The known heavy metal detoxifying effect of MT-I and MT-II may be the reason for heavy metal drug resistance of various cancers including MPM.

105 patients were retrospectively analyzed immunohistochemically for their MT expression levels. Survival analysis was done by Cox-regression, and statistical significance determined using likelihood ratio, Wald test and Score (logrank) tests.

Cox-regression analyses were done in a linear and logarithmic scale revealing a significant association between expression of MT and shortened overall survival (OS) in a linear (p=0.0009) and logarithmic scale (p=0.0003). Reduced progression free survival (PFS) was also observed for MT expressing tumors (linear: p=0.0134, log: p=0.0152).

Since both, overall survival and progression-free survival are negatively correlated with detectable MT expression in MPM, our results indicate a possible resistance to platin-based chemotherapy associated with MT expression upregulation, found exclusively in progressive MPM samples. Initial cell culture studies suggest promoter DNA hypomethylation and expression of miRNA-566 a direct regulator of copper transporter SLC31A1 and a putative regulator of MT1A and MT2A gene expression, to be responsible for the drug resistance.