J Cancer 2017; 8(13):2523-2531. doi:10.7150/jca.18560

Research Paper

Wnt3a Expression Is Associated with Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition and Impacts Prognosis of Lung Adenocarcinoma Patients

Jinming Xu, Wang Lv, Yeji Hu, Luming Wang, Yiqing Wang, Jinlin Cao, Jian Hu

Department of Thoracic Surgery, The first Affiliated Hospital, Zhejiang University School of Medicine, Hangzhou 310003, China

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Xu J, Lv W, Hu Y, Wang L, Wang Y, Cao J, Hu J. Wnt3a Expression Is Associated with Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition and Impacts Prognosis of Lung Adenocarcinoma Patients. J Cancer 2017; 8(13):2523-2531. doi:10.7150/jca.18560. Available from https://www.jcancer.org/v08p2523.htm

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Background: Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) plays an important role in the invasion and migration during cancer metastasis. Wnt3a is one of the ligands in canonical Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway, which contributes to the carcinogenesis and progression of lung cancer cell lines. The aim of this study was to evaluate the association between Wnt3a and EMT-related proteins (E-cadherin and N-cadherin), and to further investigate its impact on prognosis of lung adenocarcinoma patients.

Methods: A total of 147 lung adenocarcinoma patients were included and their clinicopathological characteristics were collected in this retrospective study. The expression levels of Wnt3a, E-cadherin and N-cadherin in post-surgery cancerous and adjacent normal tissues were assessed by immunohistochemistry. The association between Wnt3a and EMT-related proteins and their prognostic values were systematically evaluated. HCC827 and PC9 cell lines were treated with Wnt3a to detect the expression of EMT-related and Wnt/β-catenin signaling-associated proteins, as well as the in vitro migration and invasion abilities.

Results: High Wnt3a expression level was significantly associated with low E-cadherin (P<0.001) and high N-cadherin (P<0.001) expression levels in lung adenocarcinoma tissues. Besides, high Wnt3a level predicted poorer lung adenocarcinoma survival by univariate Cox analysis (P=0.001), while the multivariate result was not significant (P=0.355). Subgroup analysis suggested that the prognostic value of Wnt3a expression level was significant in stage T1-T2 (log rank P=0.003) and stage N0 (log rank P=0.031) patients. The multivariate Cox analysis suggested N-cadherin was an independent prognostic factor for lung adenocarcinoma patients (P=0.012). After including these markers into a nomogram, the Harrell's C-index of the nomogram was 0.755. The decision-curve analysis of our nomogram performed net benefit at the threshold probability from 21.6% to 82.0%, and the current model had a better prognostic value than TNM-classification with a lower Akaike information criterion (AIC) value of 166.54. In vitro experiments suggested that Wnt3a could regulate EMT-related proteins and promotes in vitro invasion and migration abilities.

Conclusions: Wnt3a could regulate EMT-related proteins and promote the migration and invasion process of lung adenocarcinoma. Although its value as an independent prognostic factor was limited, the combined model suggested good prognostic performance for lung adenocarcinoma patients.

Keywords: Wnt3a expression, lung adenocarcinoma