Concerted down-regulation of immune-system related genes predicts metastasis in colorectal carcinoma


  • M. Fehlker
  • M.R. Huska
  • T. Joens
  • M.A. Andrade-Navarro
  • W. Kemmner


  • BMC Cancer


  • BMC Cancer 14 (1): 64


  • BACKGROUND: This study aimed at the identification of prognostic gene expression markers in early primary colorectal carcinomas without metastasis at the time point of surgery by analyzing genome-wide gene expression profiles using oligonucleotide microarrays. METHODS: Cryo-conserved tumor specimens from 45 patients with early colorectal cancers were examined, with the majority of them being UICC stage II or earlier and with a follow-up time of 41-115 months. Gene expression profiling was performed using Whole Human Genome 4x44K Oligonucleotide Microarrays. Validation of microarray data was performed on five of the genes in a smaller cohort. RESULTS: Using a novel algorithm based on the recursive application of support vector machines (SVMs), we selected a signature of 44 probes that discriminated between patients developing later metastasis and patients with a good prognosis. Interestingly, almost half of the genes was related to the patients' immune response and showed reduced expression in the metastatic cases. CONCLUSIONS: Whereas up to now gene signatures containing genes with various biological functions have been described for prediction of metastasis in CRC, in this study metastasis could be well predicted by a set of gene expression markers consisting exclusively of genes related to the MHC class II complex involved in immune response. Thus, our data emphasize that the proper function of a comprehensive network of immune response genes is of vital importance for the survival of colorectal cancer patients.