LGR5 is associated with tumor aggressiveness in papillary thyroid cancer.
PURPOSE: Leucine-rich repeat-containing G-protein-coupled receptor 5 (LGR5) is a cancer stem cell marker and a down-stream target in Wnt/β-catenin signaling. In human papillary thyroid cancer (PTC), over activation of Wnt/β-catenin has been associated with tumor aggressiveness. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Using established human cell lines (TPC-1, KTC-1, Nthy-ori-3-1), we report LGR5 and R-spondin (RSPO1-3) overexpression in PTC and manipulate LGR5 and Wnt/β-catenin signaling via both pharmacologic and genetic interventions. We test the association of LGR5 tumor expression with markers of PTC aggressiveness using a Discovery Cohort (n = 26 patients) and a Validation Cohort (n = 157 patients). Lastly, we explore the association between LGR5 and the BRAFV600E mutation (n = 33 patients). RESULTS: Our results reveal that LGR5 and its ligand, RSPO, are overexpressed in human PTC, whereby Wnt/β-catenin signaling regulates LGR5 expression and promotes cellular migration. In two separate cohorts of patients, LGR5 and RSPO2 were associated with markers of tumor aggressiveness including: lymph node metastases, vascular invasion, increased tumor size, aggressive histology, advanced AJCC TNM stage, microscopic extra thyroidal extension, capsular invasion, and macroscopic invasion. As a biomarker, LGR5 positivity predicts lymph node metastasis with 95.5% sensitivity (95% CI 88.8%-98.7%) and 61% specificity (95% CI: 48.4%-72.4%) and has a negative predictive value (NPV) of 91.3% (95% CI 79.2%-97.5%) for lymph node metastatic disease. In human PTC, LGR5 is also strongly associated with the BRAFV600E mutation (p = 0.005). CONCLUSION: We conclude that overexpression of LGR5 is associated with markers of tumor aggressiveness in human PTC. LGR5 may serve as a future potential biomarker for patient risk stratification and loco regional metastases in PTC.
Michelotti, G; Jiang, X; Sosa, JA; Diehl, AM; Henderson, BB
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