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Thorax. 2013 Dec;68(12):1095-104. doi: 10.1136/thoraxjnl-2012-203021. Epub 2013 Jul 22.

The prognostic significance of aldehyde dehydrogenase 1A1 (ALDH1A1) and CD133 expression in early stage non-small cell lung cancer.

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Department of Medical Oncology, Monash Medical Centre, , East Bentleigh, Melbourne, Australia.



Expression of aldehyde dehydrogenase 1A1 (ALDH1A1) and CD133 has been functionally associated with a stem cell phenotype in normal and malignant cells. The prevalence of such cells in solid tumours should therefore correlate with recurrence and/or metastasis following definitive surgical resection. The aim of this study was to evaluate the prognostic significance of ALDH1A1 and CD133 in surgically resected, early stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).


A retrospective analysis of ALDH1A1 and CD133 expression in 205 patients with pathologic stage I NSCLC was performed using immunohistochemistry. The association between the expression of both markers and survival was determined.


We identified 62 relapses and 58 cancer-related deaths in 144 stage 1A and 61 stage 1B patients, analysed at a median of 5-years follow-up. Overexpression of ALDH1A1 and CD133, detected in 68.7% and 50.7% of primary tumours, respectively, was an independent prognostic indicator for overall survival by multivariable Cox proportional hazard model (p=0.017 and 0.039, respectively). Overexpression of ALDH1A1, but not of CD133, predicted poor recurrence-free survival (p=0.025). When categorised into three groups according to expression of ALDH1A1/CD133, patients with overexpression of both ALDH1A1 and CD133 belonged to the group with the shortest recurrence-free and overall survival (p=0.015 and 0.017, respectively).


Expression of ALDH1A1 and CD133, and coexpression of ALDH1A1 and CD133, is strongly associated with poor survival in early-stage NSCLC following surgical resection. These data are consistent with the hypothesis that expression of stem cell markers correlates with recurrence as an indirect measure of self-renewal capacity.


Lung Cancer; Thoracic Surgery

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