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PLoS One. 2015 Sep 30;10(9):e0139312. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0139312. eCollection 2015.

Expression of the Stem Cell Factor Nestin in Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma Is Associated with Poor Prognosis.

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Institute of Surgical Pathology, University Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.
Division of Thoracic Surgery, University Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.
Cancer Registry, University Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.
Clinic of Oncology, University Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.



The epithelioid and sarcomatoid histologic variants of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) can be considered as E- and M-parts of the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) axis; the biphasic being an intermediate. EMT is associated with an increase of stem cell (SC) traits. We correlated the neural crest SC marker nestin and the EMT marker periostin with histology, type of neo-adjuvant chemotherapy (CT) and overall survival (OS) of MPM patients.


Tumor tissues of a historic cohort 1 (320 patients) and an intended induction chemotherapy followed by extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) cohort 2 (145 patients) were immunohistochemically H-scored (intensity of immunoreactivity multiplied by frequency of stained cells). Paired chemo-naïve biopsies and -treated surgical specimens were available for 105/145 patients. CT included platinum/gemcitabine (Pla/Gem) or platinum/pemetrexed (Pla/Pem).


Expression of any cytosolic nestin progressively increased from epithelioid to biphasic to sarcomatoid MPM in cohort 1, whereas the diagnostic markers calretinin and podoplanin decreased. In cohort 2, Pla/Pem CT increased the expression level of nestin in comparison to Pla/Gem, whereas the opposite was found for periostin. In Pla/Pem treated patients, nestin was higher in biphasic MPM compared to epithelioid. In addition to non-epithelioid histology, any expression of nestin in chemo-naïve biopsies (median overall survival: 22 vs. 17 months) and chemo-treated surgical specimens (18 vs. 12 months) as well as high periostin in biopsies (23 vs. 15 months) were associated with poor prognosis. In the multivariate survival analysis, any nestin expression in chemo-naïve biopsies proved to be an independent prognosticator against histology. In both pre- and post-CT situations, the combination of nestin or periostin expression with non-epithelioid histology was particularly/ dismal (all p-values <0.05).


The SC marker nestin and the EMT marker periostin allow for further prognostic stratification among histologic variants of MPM. Their expression level is influenced by neo-adjuvant chemotherapy.

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