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Patil, Shivaprasad; Tawk, Bouchra; Grosser, Marianne; Lohaus, Fabian; Gudziol, Volker; Kemper, Max; Nowak, Alexander; Haim, Dominik; Tinhofer, Inge; Budach, Volker; Guberina, Maja; Stuschke, Martin; Balermpas, Panagiotis; Roedel, Claus; Schaefer, Henning; Grosu, Anca-Ligia; Abdollahi, Amir; Debus, Juergen; Ganswindt, Ute; Belka, Claus; Pigorsch, Steffi; Combs, Stephanie E.; Boeke, Simon; Zips, Daniel; Baretton, Gustavo B.; Baumann, Michael; Krause, Mechthild; Loeck, Steffen and Linge, Annett (2022): Analyses of molecular subtypes and their association to mechanisms of radioresistance in patients with HPV-negative HNSCC treated by postoperative radiochemotherapy. In: Radiotherapy and Oncology, Vol. 167: pp. 300-307

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Purpose: To assess the relation of the previously reported classification of molecular subtypes to the outcome of patients with HNSCC treated with postoperative radio(chemo)therapy (PORT-C), and to assess the association of these subtypes with gene expressions reflecting known mechanisms of radioresistance. Material and methods: Gene expression analyses were performed using the GeneChip Human Transcriptome Array 2.0 on a multicentre retrospective patient cohort (N = 128) of the German Cancer Consortium Radiation Oncology Group (DKTK-ROG) with locally advanced HNSCC treated with PORT-C. Tumours were assigned to four molecular subtypes, and correlation analyses between subtypes and clinical risk factors were performed. In addition, the classifications of eight genes or gene signatures related to mechanisms of radioresistance, which have previously shown an association with outcome of patients with HNSCC, were compared between the molecular subtypes. The endpoints loco-regional control (LRC) and overall survival (OS) were evaluated by log-rank tests and Cox regression. Results: Tumours were classified into the four subtypes basal (19.5%), mesenchymal (18.8%), atypical (15.6%) and classical (14.1%). The remaining tumours could not be classified (32.0%). Tumours of the mesenchymal subtype showed a lower LRC compared to the other subtypes (p = 0.012). These tumours were associated with increased epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and overexpression of a gene signature enriched in DNA repair genes. The majority of the eight considered gene classifiers were significantly associated to LRC or OS in the whole cohort. Conclusion: Molecular subtypes, previously identified on HNSCC patients treated with primary radio (chemo)therapy or surgery, were related to LRC for patients treated with PORT-C, where mesenchymal tumours presented with worse prognosis. After prospective validation, subtype-based patient stratification, potentially in combination with other molecular classifiers, may be considered in future interventional studies in the context of personalised radiotherapy and may guide the development of combined treatment approaches. (C) 2022 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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