Identification of S100A8-correlated genes for prediction of disease progression in non-muscle invasive bladder cancer
© Kim et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2010
Received: 9 September 2009
Accepted: 25 January 2010
Published: 25 January 2010
S100 calcium binding protein A8 (S100A8) has been implicated as a prognostic indicator in several types of cancer. However, previous studies are limited in their ability to predict the clinical behavior of the cancer. Here, we sought to identify a molecular signature based on S100A8 expression and to assess its usefulness as a prognostic indicator of disease progression in non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC).
We used 103 primary NMIBC specimens for microarray gene expression profiling. The median follow-up period for all patients was 57.6 months (range: 3.2 to 137.0 months). Various statistical methods, including the leave-one-out cross validation method, were applied to identify a gene expression signature able to predict the likelihood of progression. The prognostic value of the gene expression signature was validated in an independent cohort (n = 302).
Kaplan-Meier estimates revealed significant differences in disease progression associated with the expression signature of S100A8-correlated genes (log-rank test, P < 0.001). Multivariate Cox regression analysis revealed that the expression signature of S100A8-correlated genes was a strong predictor of disease progression (hazard ratio = 15.225, 95% confidence interval = 1.746 to 133.52, P = 0.014). We validated our results in an independent cohort and confirmed that this signature produced consistent prediction patterns. Finally, gene network analyses of the signature revealed that S100A8, IL1B, and S100A9 could be important mediators of the progression of NMIBC.
The prognostic molecular signature defined by S100A8-correlated genes represents a promising diagnostic tool for the identification of NMIBC patients that have a high risk of progression to muscle invasive bladder cancer.
Non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC) is the most common histological subtype of bladder cancer, accounting for approximately 80% of all cases. Approximately 20% of these patients experience disease progression to muscle invasive bladder cancer (MIBC) after treatment, a development that is associated with a very poor prognosis for survival. Conventional histopathological parameters, such as tumor stage or grade, are generally considered to be prognostic factors, and numerous biomarkers have been investigated as prognostic indicators of the likelihood that NMIBC will develop into MIBC [1–6].
Members of the S100 family of calcium-binding proteins play essential roles in epithelial tissues and participate in a wide range of cellular processes, including transcription, proliferation, and differentiation [7–11]. At least 16 genes that encode members of the S100 family, including the gene for S100A8, are clustered on human chromosome 1q21 [12, 13], in a region that frequently experiences chromosomal rearrangement during tumor development [14, 15]. S100A8 is reportedly up-regulated in many cancers, including bladder cancer [16–23], and has been implicated in the regulation of tumor cell proliferation and metastasis [16, 24–26].
Although numerous diagnostic markers have been investigated as indicators of the risk of disease progression [1–6], none are able to sufficiently predict the behavior of NMIBC [1–6]. S100A8 has been suggested to be a predictive biomarker of bladder cancer outcome in several studies [21–23], however, the regulation of S100A8 gene expression and whether the genes associated with its expression provides additional insight into the mechanisms of disease progression or tumor invasion have not been studied. Therefore, we analyzed the expression pattern of S100A8 and its correlated genes to assess whether their molecular signature could identify patients with a higher likelihood of disease progression.
Patients and tissue samples
Primary NMIBC tissue samples from 103 consecutive cases of patients with histologically diagnosed transitional cell carcinoma were obtained from Chungbuk National University Hospital. To reduce confounding factors for affecting the analyses, any patients diagnosed with a concomitant carcinoma in situ (CIS) lesion or only CIS lesion were excluded. All tumors were macro-dissected, typically within 15 minutes of surgical resection. Each bladder cancer specimen was confirmed as representative by analysis of adjacent tissue in fresh frozen sections from transurethral resection (TUR) specimens, and then frozen in liquid nitrogen and stored at -80°C until use. The collection and analysis of all samples was approved by the Institutional Review Board of Chungbuk National University, and informed consent was obtained from each subject.
Tumors were staged and graded according to the 2002 TNM classification and the 2004 WHO grading system, respectively . A second TUR was performed 2-4 week after the initial resection when it was incomplete or when a high-grade or T1 tumor was detected . Patients with intermediate- or high-risk NMIBC received one cycle of intravesical BCG [27, 28]. All patients were followed and managed according to the standard recommendation for treatment of NMIBC [27–29]. In this study, we defined progression of the disease as an increase in stage from either Ta or T1 to T2 or higher after disease relapse .
RNA extraction, microarray experiments, and data processing
Total RNA was isolated by TRIzol reagent (Life Technologies, NY), according to the manufacturer's protocol. The quality and integrity of the RNA were confirmed by agarose gel electrophoresis and ethidium bromide staining, followed by visual examination under ultraviolet light. Five-hundred nanograms of total RNA were used for labeling hybridization according to the manufacturer's protocols (Illumina HumanWG-6 BeadChip, version 2). Arrays were scanned with an Illumina Bead Array Reader confocal scanner (BeadStation 500GXDW; Illumina, Inc., San Diego, CA) according to the manufacturer's instructions. After scanning, the microarray data were normalized using quantile normalization in the R language environment (version 2.8.1, available at http://www.r-project.org/). Measured gene expression values were log2 transformed and median centered across genes and samples. The full microarray data set is available in the NCBI Gene Expression Omnibus public database under the data series accession number GSE13507.
To classify patients into two groups, we used the median gene expression value of S100A8 as the cut-off. Pearson correlation coefficients were calculated to evaluate the association between S100A8 and its correlated genes. A hierarchical clustering algorithm, using the uncentered correlation coefficient as the measure of similarity and average linkage clustering, was applied as described in Eisen et al . The Kaplan-Meier method was used to calculate the time to progression, and differences between the times was assessed using log rank statistics. The prognostic value of the S100A8-correlated gene signature was determined with multivariate Cox proportional hazard regression models.
To validate the expression signature of S100A8 and its correlated genes identified in our original cohort, we applied it to independent microarray data from 302 patients with NMIBC, reported by Dyrskjot et al . For validation of the prognostic value of the molecular signature, we developed prediction models using the compound covariate predictor , Bayesian compound covariate predictor , linear discriminator analysis , nearest centroid classification , and support vector machines . The models incorporated genes that were differentially expressed between the two classes using a two-sample t-test. Genes were considered to have statistically significant differences in expression if the P-value was less than 0.001. We estimated the prediction error of each model using leave-one-out cross-validation (LOOCV), as described by Simon et al . For each LOOCV training set, the entire model-building procedure was repeated, including the gene selection process. Validation procedure was performed in BRB ArrayTools (version 3.7.1).
To explore the relationships between S100A8-correlated genes, we examined functional associations among the genes and generated gene networks based on whether they had more interconnected genes than would be expected to occur by chance. The significance of each network was estimated using the scoring system provided by the Ingenuity Pathway Analysis Tool (version 7.5). The scores were determined by the number of differentially expressed genes within each of the networks and the strength of the associations among the network members.
Baseline characteristics of primary non-muscle invasive bladder cancer patients
No. of patients (%)
Prognostic utility of S100A8-correlated genes
Multivariate Cox regression analysis for prediction of disease progression
HR (95% CI)
Stage (Ta vs. T1)
0.258 (0.032 - 2.083)
Grade (low vs. high)
2.257 (0.445 - 11.449)
Number of tumors
2 to 7
1.684 (0.314 - 9.027)
4.544 (0.624 - 32.141)
Size (> 3 cm vs. ≤ 3 cm)
1.933 (0.397 - 9.411)
Intravesical therapy (Yes vs. No)
2.141 (0.391 - 11.715)
S100A8-correlated gene signature (HSC vs. LSC)
15.225 (1.736 - 133.52)
Validation of the signature in an independent cohort
We next sought to validate our findings by using gene expression data from an independent cohort of European patients with bladder cancer . Patients with NMIBC from this cohort (n = 302) were divided into two groups according to the expression level of S100A8. Consistent with our results, progression of NMIBC was significantly higher in patients with S100A8 expression levels in the upper 50th percentile than in those with S100A8 expression levels in the lower 50th percentile (log-rank test, P < 0.001; Figure 1-C).
Performance of prediction models
Biological insights into the signature for disease progression
As expected, genes involved in cellular growth and proliferation, cell cycle, cancer, and cell death were enriched, providing confidence in our results. We also found that genes involved in cell-mediated immune responses, immune cell trafficking, humoral immune responses, inflammatory responses, and immunological disease were significantly enriched (Figure 4).
The data presented in this study demonstrates that the expression signature of S100A8-correlated genes is able to predict the likelihood of bladder cancer progression. The validity of this signature as a prognostic indicator was confirmed by analysis of 302 cancers from an independent European cohort. In addition, based on the results of gene network analysis, we have identified a putative mechanism that may be responsible for disease progression.
Although considerable effort has been devoted to the establishment of a prognostic model of NMIBC that can provide information concerning survival and treatment options at diagnosis [1–6], the ability to predict the course of disease progression for patients with bladder cancer remains a major clinical challenge. A number of the molecular markers that have been identified to date have been explored as potential predictors of disease progression. Some of these, such as p53, have been suggested to be independent markers, while others do not appear to be effective as prognostic indicators [4–6]. Thus, there is a crucial need for methods capable of identifying patients with NMIBC that is likely to develop into MIBC. In the present study, we developed a method to predict the progression of primary NMIBC based on a gene expression signature. We showed that our method has strong predictive value through multivariate regression analysis and a validation study in an independent cohort. These data underscore the effectiveness of this molecular signature as a prognostic indicator in NMIBC, and suggest that this signature could be clinically useful.
The accumulation of recent reports that document the deregulated expression of calcium-binding proteins of the S100 family in a variety of human cancers implies that S100 proteins are required for neoplastic or metastatic transformation of tumor cells . Previous observations that S100A8 expression is enhanced in bladder cancer suggest a role for this protein in the progression of bladder cancer [21–23]. The data obtained from the current study demonstrated that upregulation of S100A8 expression was strongly associated with disease progression. This result substantiates the involvement of S100A8 during the progression of NMIBC.
Expression of S100A8 is not the only indicator of S100A8 activity, because it is regulated by many different mechanisms. The identification of stable and reliable human gene-to-gene relationships is an essential step towards unraveling the interactions and functional correlations between human genes . Therefore, we performed gene network analysis to identify the association of S100A8-correlated genes with progression of NMIBC. Strikingly, expression of both S100A8 and its correlated genes were strong predictors of the progression of bladder cancer (Figures 1 and 2). This finding was further supported by multivariate analysis, which showed that the molecular signature of S100A8-correlated genes was a strong predictor of cancer progression-free survival (Table 2). This result suggests that the S100A8-correlated gene signature retains its prognostic relevance even after additional pathological prognostic features have been taken into account.
The standard strategy for evaluating the accuracy of classification methods is application of a training-validation approach, in which a training set is utilized to identify the molecular signature and a validation set is used to estimate the degree of reliability. For the validation assay, a large sample size is needed before expression profiling can be utilized in a clinical setting . In the current study, the accuracy of a predictive S100A8-correlated gene signature was tested using five independent algorithms with gene expression data from a large independent European cohort (Figure 3). This result demonstrated not only a strong association between gene expression patterns and progression, but also provided strong evidence of the reliability of the prediction.
Based on an analysis of the S100A8-correlated genes in the context of gene networks, we identified a putative role for S100A8 in disease progression of bladder cancer. Because S100A8 is the downstream target of IL1B , our results strongly support the potential involvement of IL1B in tumor progression. Recent studies indicate that IL1B is associated with tumor invasiveness and metastasis [40, 41]. Many of the satellite genes associated with IL1B (i.e., CXCL2, PLA2G7, CCL11, S100A9, CD163, RNASE7, and OSM) (Figure 5) participate in inflammatory and immune responses, which are the best known activities of IL1B. Previous studies have demonstrated that IL1B activates inflammation that promotes tumor invasiveness . It was reported previously that S100A9 is up-regulated in conjunction with S100A8 in many cancers, including gastric cancer , prostate cancer [16, 17], and colorectal cancer [18, 19]. Both S100A8 and S100A9 have been implicated in the regulation of cell proliferation [16, 24] and metastatic processes . Thus, S100A9 may prove a valuable target for prevention of the migration of tumor cells to pre-metastatic sites .
Our results demonstrate that an expression signature consisting of S100A8 and its correlated genes can be a reliable prognostic indicator of progression in NMIBC, independent of traditional pathologic prognostic parameters. The use of this signature as a predictive indicator could potentially enable the prognosis of heterogeneous NMIBC patients to be determined at diagnosis, which would allow for individualized treatment and evaluation.
We describe a prognostic molecular signature based on gene expression of S100A8-correlated genes that can identify patients with high-risk NMIBC that is likely to develop into MIBC. Identification of patients with high-risk NMIBC may improve the effectiveness of currently available treatments and provide opportunities for the development of new treatment modalities.
(non-muscle invasive bladder cancer)
(muscle invasive bladder cancer)
(leave-one-out cross validation)
(high S100A8 cluster)
(low S100A8 cluster).
This research was supported by the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (2009-0063255 and 2009-0068819).
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