p62/SQSTM1 is a selective substrate of autophagy, and aberrant accumulation of p62 has been observed in various pathological conditions. To understand the roles p62 plays in non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), we carried out immunohistochemical analyses of p62 expression in a cohort of patients with annotated clinicopathological data. As analyses of murine and human hepatocellular carcinomas suggested a correlation between p62 and Nrf2 accumulations, we also examined NRF2 expression in the same cohort. The expression of NRF2 and p62 was examined by immunohistochemical methods in 109 NSCLC cases, which included patients with adenocarcinoma (n = 72), squamous cell carcinoma (n = 31), and large cell carcinoma (n = 6). Accumulation of NRF2 and p62 was detected in 34% and 37% of NSCLC patients, respectively. The accumulations of p62 and NRF2 did not correlate with each other, but both were associated with worse lung cancer-specific survival (P = 0.0003 for NRF2; P = 0.0130 for p62). NRF2 status had an impact on NSCLC prognosis irrespective of histology types, but p62 status did so particularly in adenocarcinoma (P = 0.037). Multivariate analysis indicated that positive immunoreactivities of NRF2 and p62 were both independent factors predicting worse lung cancer-specific survival (P < 0.0001 for NRF2 and P = 0.04 for p62). This study revealed that both NRF2 and p62 are independent prognostic factors for NSCLC. The prognostic impact of p62 status was pronounced in adenocarcinoma patients, suggesting that molecular mechanisms underlying cancer evolution differ between adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research