Purpose: The aim of this study was to investigate the association between expression of insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor (IGF1R) and its ligand, IGF-II, and disease-free survival (DFS) in patients with stage III colon cancer (CC).
Methods: In this retrospective study we included consecutive patients who underwent curative surgery for stage III CC. IGF1R and IGF-II/IGF2 status were evaluated in tumour samples by immunohistochemistry and quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR). Associations of markers with DFS were analysed using Cox proportional hazards models.
Results: Hundred and fifty-one CC patients were included (median age, 66.6 years; female, 54.3%). Low levels of IGF1R and IGF-II protein expression were observed in 16.1% and 10.7% of the cases, respectively. No significant differences in clinicopathological characteristics between patients with tumours expressing low IGF1R or IGF-II protein levels and those with high levels were observed. A low IGF1R protein expression was found to be significantly associated with a shorter DFS (HR 3.32; 95% CI, 1.7-6.31; p = 0.0003), while no association was observed between IGF-II protein expression and DFS (HR 0.91; 95% CI, 0.28-2.96; p = 0.87). In a multivariate analysis, IGF1R protein status remained an independent prognostic factor for DFS (HR 2.73; 95% CI, 1.40-5.31; p = 0.003). Furthermore, we found that neither IGF1R nor IGF2 mRNA expression levels as measured by qRT-PCR correlated with the respective protein expression levels as assessed by immunohistochemistry. Neither of the mRNA expression levels was significantly associated with DFS.
Conclusions: From our data we conclude that low IGF1R protein expression represents a poor prognostic biomarker in stage III colon cancer.
Keywords: Colon cancer; Disease-free survival; IGF-II/IGF2; IGF1R; KRAS/BRAF; MSI.