Folylpoly-glutamate synthetase expression is associated with tumor response and outcome from pemetrexed-based chemotherapy in malignant pleural mesothelioma

Daniel C. Christoph, Bernadette Reyna Asuncion, Celine Mascaux, Cindy Tran, Xian Lu, Murry W. Wynes, Thomas C. Gauler, Jeremias Wohlschlaeger, Dirk Theegarten, Volker Neumann, Rodrigo Hepp, Stefan Welter, Georgios Stamatis, Andrea Tannapfel, Martin Schuler, Wilfried E. Eberhardt, Fred R. Hirsch

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33 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND:: Pemetrexed-based chemotherapy represents the standard of care in first-line treatment of advanced malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM). However, there are no established predictors of clinical benefit. Pemetrexed inhibits multiple enzymes involved in pyrimidine and purine synthesis, but the main target is thymidylate synthase (TS). After cellular uptake pemetrexed is converted into more effective polyglutamated forms by folylpoly-γ- glutamate synthetase (FPGS). We hypothesized that FPGS and TS protein expressions are associated with clinical outcome after pemetrexed-based chemotherapy. METHODS:: Pretreatment tumor samples from 84 patients with histologically confirmed MPM, who received pemetrexed combined with platinum (79 of 84) or single-agent pemetrexed (5 of 84) as first-line treatment, were retrospectively analyzed. FPGS and TS protein expressions were semiquantitatively assessed by using the Hybrid (H)-scoring system (range, 0-300). H-scores were correlated with radiological response according to modified Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors, progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS). RESULTS:: Median H-score of the entire cohort was 230 for FPGS (range, 100-300), and 210 for TS (range, 100-300). High FPGS protein expression was significantly associated with longer PFS (pCOX = 0.0337), better objective tumor response (partial response versus stable disease + progressive disease; pKW = 0.003), and improved disease-control rate (partial response + stable disease versus progressive disease; pKW = 0.0208), but not with OS. In addition, high TS protein expression was associated with progressive disease under pemetrexed-based therapy (p = 0.0383), and shorter OS (pCOX = 0.0071), but no association with PFS was observed. CONCLUSION:: FPGS and TS expressions were associated with clinical response and outcome to pemetrexed-based first-line chemotherapy in MPM. Prospective evaluation of FPGS and TS expressions and their prognostic/predictive power in MPM patients is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1440-1448
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Thoracic Oncology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • -glutamate synthetase
  • Biomarker
  • Folylpoly- γ
  • Malignant pleural mesothelioma
  • Pemetrexed
  • Thymidylate synthase


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