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Garnier, Agnès; Ilmer, Matthias; Becker, Kristina; Häberle, Beate; Schweinitz, Dietrich von; Kappler, Roland and Berger, Michael (2016): Truncated neurokinin-1 receptor is an ubiquitous antitumor target in hepatoblastoma, and its expression is independent of tumor biology and stage. In: Oncology Letters, Vol. 11, No. 1: pp. 870-878

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The substance P (SP;also known as TAC1)/neurokinin-1 receptor (NK1R;also known as TACR1) complex is a critical part in the development of cancer. Therefore, NK1R antagonists, such as the clinical drug aprepitant, are currently under investigation as future anticancer agents. In a previous study, NK1R (TACR1) was identified as a potent anticancer target in hepatoblastoma (HB). However, little is known regarding the exact distribution of this target among HB subsets and whether it correlates with clinical features and prognosis. In the present study, mRNA was isolated from 47 children with HB, and reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction was performed on the samples to analyze the expression of full-length-TACR1 (fl-TACR1) and truncated-TACR1 (tr-TACR1). These data were correlated with data obtained from 9 tumor-free controls, as well as with the presence of metastasis, PRETEXT, vascular invasion, histology, age of diagnosis, multifocality, CTNNB1 mutation, gender and overall survival. Additionally, the present study investigated a recently described 16-gene signature characterizing HB known to correlate with prognosis. Compared with tumor-free liver tissue, tumorous tissue expressed TACR1 significantly higher for the truncated version (P=0.0301), and by trend also for the full-length version. Accordingly, the expression of fl-TACR1 correlated with the expression of the truncated version (P=0.0074). Furthermore, a low expression of fl-TACR1 correlated with characteristics of the 16-gene signature known to predict prognosis (P=0.0222). However, there was no correlation between tr-TACR1 and the tumor characteristics investigated, including outcome, although a clear trend was observed for some tumor characteristics. The current results reinforced the previously described findings that in HB, tr-TACR1 is overexpressed compared with tumor-free liver tissue. Furthermore, to the best of our knowledge, the present study demonstrated for the first time that tr-TACR1 is expressed ubiquitously among the different subsets of HB. Therefore, NK1R may serve as a potent anticancer target in a large variety of patients with HB, independent of tumor biology and clinical stage.

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