Research Papers:

MicroRNA molecular profiling identifies potential signaling pathways conferring resistance to chemoradiation in locally-advanced rectal adenocarcinoma

Cory Pettit, Amy Webb, Steve Walston, Moumita Chatterjee, Wei Chen, Wendy Frankel, Carlo Croce and Terence M. Williams _

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Oncotarget. 2018; 9:28951-28964. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.25652

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Cory Pettit1, Amy Webb1, Steve Walston1, Moumita Chatterjee1, Wei Chen1, Wendy Frankel1, Carlo Croce1 and Terence M. Williams1

1The Ohio State University Medical Center, Arthur G. James Comprehensive Cancer Center and Richard J. Solove Research Institute, Columbus, OH 43210, USA

Correspondence to:

Terence M. Williams, email: [email protected]

Keywords: miRNA; rectal cancer; chemotherapy; radiation; biomarker

Received: February 05, 2018     Accepted: April 02, 2018     Published: June 22, 2018


Purpose: There has been growing interest in using chemoradiation (CRT) for non-operative management of rectal cancer, and identifying patients who might benefit most from this approach is crucial. This study identified miRNAs (miRs) associated with clinical outcomes and treatment resistance by evaluating both pre- and post-CRT expression profiles.

Methods: Forty patients, 9 with pathologic complete response (pCR) and 31 with pathologic incomplete response (pIR) were included. MicroRNA was extracted from 40 pre-therapy tumor samples and 31 post-chemoradiation surgical samples with pathologic incomplete response (pIR). A generalized linear model was used to identify miRs associated with pCR. A linear mixed effects model was used to identify miRs differentially expressed before and after treatment. miR expression was dichotomized at the mean and clinical outcomes were evaluated using Cox proportional hazard modeling.

Results: Nine miRs were associated with pCR (p<0.05), but none were significant after false discovery rate correction. Among patients with pIR, 68 miRs were differentially expressed between the pre and post-CRT groups (FDR p<0.05). Ingenuity pathway analysis (IPA) demonstrated multiple signaling networks associated with pIR, including p38MAPK, TP53, AKT, IL-6, and RAS. Increased let-7b was correlated with increased distant metastasis (DM), worse relapse-free survival (RFS), and worse overall survival (OS) (p<0.05).

Conclusions: No miRs were significantly correlated with pCR. We identified miRs that were differentially expressed between pre- and post-CRT tumor samples, and these miRs implicated multiple signaling pathways that may confer resistance to CRT. In addition, we identified an association between increased let-7b and worse clinical outcomes (DM, DFS, OS).

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