Cell Cycle Protein Expression in Neuroendocrine Tumors: Association of CDK4/CDK6, CCND1, and Phosphorylated Retinoblastoma Protein With Proliferative Index

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Abstract

Objectives

Dysregulation of the cell cycle has been observed and implicated as an etiologic factor in a range of human malignancies, but remains relatively unstudied in neuroendocrine tumors (NETs). We evaluated expression of key proteins involved in cell cycle regulation in a large cohort of NETs.

Methods

We evaluated immunohistochemical expression of CDKN1B, CDKN1A, CDKN2A, CDK2, CDK4, CDK6, cyclin D1, cyclin E1, and phosphorylated retinoblastoma protein (phospho-RB1) in a cohort of 267 patients with NETs. We then explored associations between cell cycle protein expression, mutational status, histologic features, and overall survival.

Results

We found that high expression of CDK4, CDK6, CCND1, and phospho-RB1 was associated with higher proliferative index, as defined by MKI67. We additionally observed a trend toward shorter overall survival associated with low expression of CDKN1B. This association seemed strongest in SINETs (multivariate hazards ratio, 2.04; 95% confidence interval, 1.06–3.93; P = 0.03). We found no clear association between CDKN1B mutation and protein expression.

Conclusions

Our results suggest that dysregulation and activation of the CDK4/CDK6-CCND1-phospho-RB1 axis is associated with higher proliferative index in NETs. Investigation of the therapeutic potential of CDK4/CDK6 inhibitors in higher grade NETs is warranted.

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