The neurotrophic tyrosine kinase receptor TrkA and its ligand NGF are increased in squamous cell carcinomas of the lung

The neurotrophic tyrosine kinase receptor TrkA (NTRK1) and its ligand nerve growth factor (NGF) are emerging promoters of tumor progression. In lung cancer, drugs targeting TrkA are in clinical trials, but the clinicopathological significance of TrkA and NGF, as well as that of the precursor proNGF, the neurotrophin co-receptor p75NTR and the proneurotrophin co-receptor sortilin, remains unclear. In the present study, analysis of these proteins was conducted by immunohistochemistry and digital quantification in a series of 204 lung cancers of different histological subtypes versus 121 normal lung tissues. TrkA immunoreactivity was increased in squamous cell carcinoma compared with benign and other malignant lung cancer histological subtypes (p < 0.0001). NGF and proNGF were also increased in squamous cell carcinoma, as well as in adenocarcinoma (p < 0.0001). In contrast, p75NTR was increased across all lung cancer histological subtypes compared to normal lung (p < 0.0001). Sortilin was higher in adenocarcinoma and small cell carcinoma (p < 0.0001). Nerves in the tumor microenvironment were negative for TrkA, NGF, proNGF, p75NTR and sortilin. In conclusion, these data suggest a preferential therapeutic value of targeting the NGF-TrkA axis in squamous cell carcinomas of the lung.

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Fangfang Gao, Nathan Griffin, Sam Faulkner, Christopher W. Rowe, Lily Williams, Severine Roselli, Rick F. Thorne, Aysha Ferdoushi, Phillip Jobling, Marjorie M. Walker & Hubert Hondermarck

Scientific Reports | Published May 25th, 2018 | DOI

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