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Gastroenterology. 2009 Apr;136(4):1242-50. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2008.12.048. Epub 2008 Dec 24.

Colorectal cancer expression of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARG, PPARgamma) is associated with good prognosis.

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  • 1Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School, and Department of Pathology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.



The peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARG, PPARgamma) is a nuclear receptor that regulates expression of mediators of lipid metabolism and the inflammatory response. There is controversy over the pro-oncogenic or antioncogenic effects of PPARG, and little is known about its prognostic significance in colon cancer.


Among 470 patients with colorectal cancer (stages I-IV) identified in 2 independent prospective cohorts, PPARG expression was detected in 102 tumors (22%) by immunohistochemistry. Cox proportional hazards models were used to compute hazard ratios (HRs) of colorectal cancer-specific and overall mortalities, adjusted for patient characteristics and molecular features including cyclooxygenase 2, fatty acid synthase, KRAS, BRAF, PIK3CA, p53, p21, beta-catenin, LINE-1 hypomethylation, microsatellite instability (MSI), and the CpG island methylation phenotype (CIMP).


Compared with patients with PPARG-negative tumors, patients with PPARG-positive tumors had significantly lower overall mortality, determined by Kaplan-Meier analysis (P=.0047), univariate Cox regression (HR, 0.55; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.37-0.84; P=.0053), and multivariate analysis (adjusted HR, 0.43; 95% CI, 0.27-0.69; P=.0004). Patients with PPARG-positive tumors experienced lower colorectal cancer-specific mortality (adjusted HR, 0.44; 95% CI, 0.25-0.79; P=.0054). The relationship between PPARG and lower mortality did not appear to be significantly modified by MSI, CIMP, LINE-1, or the other clinical and molecular variables examined (all P(interaction)>.05).


Tumor expression of PPARG is independently associated with longer survival of patients. PPARG expression appears to mark an indolent subset of colorectal cancers.

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