Molecular marker profiles predict locoregional control of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma in a randomized trial of continuous hyperfractionated accelerated radiotherapy.
Buffa FM., Bentzen SM., Daley FM., Dische S., Saunders MI., Richman PI., Wilson GD.
PURPOSE: Identification of factors that assist prediction of tumor response to radiotherapy may aid in refining treatment strategies and improving outcome. Possible association of molecular marker expression profiles with locoregional control of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma was investigated in a randomized trial of conventional versus continuous hyperfractionated accelerated radiotherapy (CHART). EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: Tumor material was obtained from 402 patients. Immunohistochemistry was used to assess Ki-67, CD31, p53, Bcl-2, and cyclin D1 expression. A hierarchical clustering algorithm with a Bayesian information criterion was used to group tumors with similar marker expression; resulting expression profiles were then compared in terms of their difference in outcome after CHART and conventionally fractionated radiotherapy. RESULTS: Molecular marker profile was an independent prognostic factor for locoregional control. This was confirmed in multivariate analysis, including clinical variables such as tumor and nodal status, primary site, histological grade, age, and gender (P < 0.001 and P = 0.006 for local and nodal relapse, respectively). In particular, Bcl-2-positive tumors responded significantly better than average in both arms of the trial. Tumors negative for p53- and Bcl-2, with high and randomly patterned Ki-67 expression, responded worse than average with no benefit from CHART. Tumors with similarly negative p53 and Bcl-2, but low Ki-67 staining, with an organized pattern, benefit significantly from CHART schedule. CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates the potential of molecular profiles to predict radiotherapy response of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma and for treatment stratification. Distinct expression profiles correlate with three distinct clinical phenotypes, including good locoregional control, poor locoregional control, and an outcome strongly dependent upon fractionation schedule.