Class III β-tubulin expression as a predictor of docetaxel-resistance in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer

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PLoS One


About half of the patients treated with docetaxel in the setting of metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) are non-responders. Therefore, a marker of response would be beneficial for clinical decision-making. We evaluated class III β-tubulin (βIII-tubulin) expression as a predictor of resistance in this setting, which previously has been correlated with lack of response to taxanes in other cancers. Patients with CRPC were included if they were treated with at least 3 cycles of docetaxel between 1990 and 2011. βIII-tubulin expression was assessed by immunostaining, which was performed in tissue samples obtained either via biopsy or prostatectomy at the time of diagnosis. Rates of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) response and overall survival (OS) following docetaxel treatment were compared between patients with high (2+ or 3+ staining) vs. low (0 or 1+ staining) βIII-tubulin expression. Of 73 patients, 26 (35%) had a high expression of βIII-tubulin. A PSA decline of 10% or greater occurred in 65% of patients with a high βIII-tubulin expression vs. 89% with a low βIII-tubulin expression (p = 0.0267). The median OS for patients with a high βIII-tubulin expression was 17.4 (95% CI 8.7-21.0) months vs. 19.8 (95% CI 16.6-23.6) months for patients with a low expression (p = 0.039). Our results show that a high βIII-tubulin expression is a negative prognostic factor in metastatic CRPC patients treated with docetaxel.

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