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J Clin Oncol. 1996 Jan;14(1):176-82.

Thymidylate synthase mRNA level in adenocarcinoma of the stomach: a predictor for primary tumor response and overall survival.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Southern California School of Medicine, Los Angeles, USA.



We tested the hypothesis that polymerase chain reaction (PCR) quantitation of the enzyme thymidylate synthase (TS) within a primary adenocarcinoma of the stomach, has an inverse relationship to response and survival for patients who receive fluorouracil (5FU)-based chemotherapy.


Before systemic chemotherapy, the genetic expression of TS (TSmRNA level) was determined using a PCR method. Gene expression was calculated by determining the ratio between the amount of radiolabeled PCR product with the linear amplification range of the TS gene and the beta-actin gene. Chemotherapy consisted of two cycles of protracted infusion (PI) 5FU 200 mg/m2/d administered for 3 weeks with leucovorin 20 mg/m2/w. Cisplatin 100 mg/m2 was administered on day 1.


Sixty-five patients with primary gastric cancer had a median TS mRNA level of 4.6 x 10(-3) (range, 0.9 to 20.1 x 10(-3)). Thirty-five percent of patients had measurable responses in their primary tumors. The mean gastric cancer TSmRNA level in responding and resistant patients is statistically significant (P < .001). The median survival time was 43+ months for treated patients with TSmRNA levels less than the median and 6 months for those with TS m-RNA levels greater than the median (P = .003).


The genetic expression of TS (TSmRNA level) influences response to 5FU-based chemotherapy and survival for a cohort of patients with primary gastric cancer. Confirmation of these data could lead to therapeutic decisions based on specific molecular properties within a tumor.

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