Research Papers:

A generic cycling hypoxia-derived prognostic gene signature: application to breast cancer profiling

Romain Boidot, Samuel Branders, Thibault Helleputte, Laila Illan Rubio, Pierre Dupont and Olivier Feron _

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Oncotarget. 2014; 5:6947-6963. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.2285

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Romain Boidot1,*, Samuel Branders2,*, Thibault Helleputte2, Laila Illan Rubio1, Pierre Dupont2 and Olivier Feron1

1 Institut de Recherche Expérimentale et Clinique (IREC), Pole of Pharmacology and Therapeutics (FATH), Université catholique de Louvain, Brussels, Belgium

2 Machine Learning Group, Institute of Information and Communication Technologies, Electronics and Applied Mathematics (ICTEAM), Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium

* These authors contribued equally to this work


Olivier Feron, email:

Keywords: hypoxia, breast cancer, biomarker, gene signature, prognosis

Received: June 09, 2014 Accepted: July 31, 2014 Published: July 31, 2014


Background: Temporal and local fluctuations in O2 in tumors require adaptive mechanisms to support cancer cell survival and proliferation. The transcriptome associated with cycling hypoxia (CycHyp) could thus represent a prognostic biomarker of cancer progression.

Method: We exposed 20 tumor cell lines to repeated periods of hypoxia/reoxygenation to determine a transcriptomic CycHyp signature and used clinical data sets from 2,150 breast cancer patients to estimate a prognostic Cox proportional hazard model to assess its prognostic performance.

Results: The CycHyp prognostic potential was validated in patients independently of the receptor status of the tumors. The discriminating capacity of the CycHyp signature was further increased in the ER+ HER2- patient populations including those with a node negative status under treatment (HR=3.16) or not (HR=5.54). The CycHyp prognostic signature outperformed a signature derived from continuous hypoxia and major prognostic metagenes (P<0.001). The CycHyp signature could also identify ER+HER2 node-negative breast cancer patients at high risk based on clinicopathologic criteria but who could have been spared from chemotherapy and inversely those patients classified at low risk based but who presented a negative outcome.

Conclusions: The CycHyp signature is prognostic of breast cancer and offers a unique decision making tool to complement anatomopathologic evaluation.

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