CD117, a trans-membrane tyrosine kinase receptor, has been immunolocalized in a large variety of human neoplasms. Little, however, is known about the prevalence and clinical implications of CD117 in stage I adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma of the lung. We evaluated 201 consecutive stage I adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma of the lung for CD117 immunoreactivity (dichotomized as negative or positive if containing less than 5% or ≥ 5% immunoreactive neoplastic cells, respectively), also taking into account the pattern (either membranous or cytoplasmic), and the intensity of immunostaining in comparison with intratumoral mast cells. The immunostaining results were then correlated with tumor biopathological characteristics and patients' survival. Membranous CD117 immunoreactivity was documented in 19 (22%) of 88 adenocarcinomas and 15 (13%) of 113 squamous cell carcinomas, whereas cytoplasmic labelling was seen in 28 (32%) adenocarcinomas and eight (7%) squamous cell carcinomas. In both tumor types, membranous or cytoplasmic CD117 immunoreactivity was associated with higher proliferative fraction and with features of more aggressive tumor behavior, including higher stage, size and grade, occurrence of clinical symptoms, high microvessel density and neuroendocrine differentiation. Furthermore, immunoreactive tumors exhibited increased levels of bcl-2, cyclin-E, Her-2, p27Kip1 and fascin, the latter being a marker of tumor cell metastatization in lung cancer. Membranous but not cytoplasmic labelling emerged as an independent risk factor for death and reduced time to progression in adenocarcinoma but not in squamous cell carcinoma patients, when singly adjusted for confounding factors. CD117 immunoreactivity identifies a peculiar subset of stage I adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma of the lung with highly proliferative tumors and may have prognostic relevance in adenocarcinoma patients.
- Early stage
- Squamous cell carcinoma
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine