The prognostic significance of activity biomarkers within the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway was assessed in two independent cohorts of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) patients uniformly treated with a multimodal approach. We specifically assessed expression signatures in a unique set of pre- and postchemotherapy tumor samples.
Biomarker expression was assessed in samples of two independent cohorts of 107 (cohort 1) and 46 (cohort 2) MPM cases uniformly treated with platinum-based induction chemotherapy followed by extrapleural pneumonectomy from two different institutions, assembled on tissue microarrays. Expression levels of phosphatase and tensin homologue (PTEN), phospho-mTOR, and p-S6 in addition to marker of proliferation (Ki-67) and apoptosis (cleaved caspase-3) were evaluated by immunohistochemistry and correlated with overall survival (OAS) and progression-free survival (PFS). To assess PTEN genomic status, fluorescence in situ hybridization was performed.
Survival analysis showed that high p-S6 and Ki-67 expression in samples of treatment naïve patients of cohort 1 was associated with shorter PFS (p = 0.02 and p = 0.04, respectively). High Ki-67 expression after chemotherapy remained associated with shorter PFS (p = 0.03) and OAS (p = 0.02). Paired comparison of marker expression in samples before and after induction chemotherapy of cohort 1 revealed that decreased cytoplasmic PTEN and increased phospho-mTOR expression was associated with a worse OAS (p = 0.04 and p = 0.03, respectively).
These novel data reveal a prognostic significance of expression changes of PI3K/mTOR pathway components during induction chemotherapy if confirmed in other patient cohorts and support the growing evidence to target the PI3K/mTOR pathway in the treatment of MPM.