HPV16-E6 mRNA is superior to cytokeratin 19 mRNA as a molecular marker for the detection of disseminated tumour cells in sentinel lymph nodes of patients with cervical cancer by quantitative reverse-transcription PCR

Frauenklinik der Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Jena, Germany.
International Journal of Cancer (Impact Factor: 5.01). 05/2007; 120(9):1842-6. DOI: 10.1002/ijc.22521
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT About 10-15% of patients with cervical cancer suffer from recurrence despite histologically negative lymph nodes (pN0). Occult micrometastases or small tumour cell clusters may contribute to disease outcome. The aim of this study was to compare at the RNA level 2 known tumour-associated genes, HPV16-E6 and cytokeratin 19 (CK19), as molecular markers for the detection of disseminated tumour cells. Real-time reverse transcription PCR technology was used to quantify gene expression in histologically positive and negative sentinel lymph nodes (SLN) from 70 patients with cervical cancer. Lymph nodes from noncancer patients were used as controls. Calculated copy numbers were normalised to the geometric average of the most stable housekeeping genes. We observed a good correlation (R = 0.915) between the expression of both markers in SLN with histologically confirmed metastases. However, marker gene expression differed considerably in histologically negative nodes: CK19 transcripts were detected in 90 of 112 SLN (80.4%), whereas only 38 nodes (33.9%) were positive for HPV16 E6 mRNA. In particular, 62 of 74 SLN, which were negative by histology, and HPV16 E6 mRNA expressed CK19 mRNA. Moreover, 8 of 10 lymph nodes from noncancer patients expressed CK19 mRNA. Systematic errors due to RNA degradation or incomplete cDNA could be ruled out. It is concluded that HPV16 E6 mRNA is more specific and more sensitive for the detection of tumour cells in SLN than CK19 mRNA. The specificity of CK19 is limited because of low level expression in uninvolved pelvic lymph nodes.


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