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Clin Cancer Res. 2009 Dec 15;15(24):7547-7552.

Differential Thymidylate Synthase Expression in Different Variants of Large-Cell Carcinoma of the Lung.

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Authors' Affiliation: Department of Clinical and Biological Sciences, University of Torino at San Luigi Hospital, Orbassano (Turin), Italy.



In non-small cell lung cancer, higher thymidylate synthase (TS) levels have been reported in squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) compared with adenocarcinoma (ADC). Data on TS expression in large-cell carcinoma (LCC) are scanty.


TS mRNA and protein levels were analyzed in 42 surgical cases of pulmonary LCC, including 8 large-cell neuroendocrine carcinomas, and were compared with controls represented by ADC (n = 41), SCC (n = 30), and small-cell lung carcinoma (SCLC; n = 33). TS levels were also correlated with the expression of Ki67 and E2F1. Moreover, the reliability of TS expression analysis was assessed in 22 matched cytologic and surgical specimens of non-small cell lung cancer.


TS mRNA levels of LCC were comparable with those of control SCC, but significantly higher than those of ADC (P < 0.001) and lower than SCLC (P < 0.001). A correlation between TS mRNA and protein levels was observed in control ADC and SCC, but not in LCC. Large-cell neuroendocrine carcinomas had the highest TS expression, whereas in non-neuroendocrine LCCs, TS protein levels were significantly higher (P = 0.02) in LCC immunoreactive for p63 and desmocollin3 (markers of squamous differentiation) than those expressing TTF-1 (a marker of ADC). Both E2F1 and Ki67 levels were not correlated with TS in LCCs. Finally, a linear correlation in TS protein levels was observed between matched cytologic and surgical specimens.


The pulmonary LCC immunoprofile may resemble that of SCCs or ADCs. This immunoprofile is associated with differential TS expression levels, which may support a more appropriate therapeutic strategy decision. (Clin Cancer Res 2009;15(24):7547-52).

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