Genetic variants in the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway as predictors of survival and clinical response in women with ovarian cancer

Larissa Meyer, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Background. The mTOR pathway is commonly altered in human tumors and promotes cell survival and proliferation. Preliminary evidence suggests this pathway's involvement in chemoresistance to platinum and taxanes, first line therapy for epithelial ovarian cancer. A pathway-based approach was used to identify individual germline single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and cumulative effects of multiple genetic variants in mTOR pathway genes and their association with clinical outcome in women with ovarian cancer. Methods. The case-series was restricted to 319 non-Hispanic white women with high grade ovarian cancer treated with surgery and platinum-based chemotherapy. 135 SNPs in 20 representative genes in the mTOR pathway were genotyped. Hazard ratios (HRs) for death and Odds ratios (ORs) for failure to respond to primary therapy were estimated for each SNP using the multivariate Cox proportional hazards model and multivariate logistic regression model, respectively, while adjusting for age, stage, histology and treatment sequence. A survival tree analysis of SNPs with a statistically significant association (p<0.05) was performed to identify higher order gene-gene interactions and their association with overall survival. Results. There was no statistically significant difference in survival by tumor histology or treatment regimen. The median survival for the cohort was 48.3 months. Seven SNPs were significantly associated with decreased survival. Compared to those with no unfavorable genotypes, the HR for death increased significantly with the increasing number of unfavorable genotypes and women in the highest risk category had HR of 4.06 (95% CI 2.29–7.21). The survival tree analysis also identified patients with different survival patterns based on their genetic profiles. 13 SNPs on five different genes were found to be significantly associated with a treatment response, defined as no evidence of disease after completion of primary therapy. Rare homozygous genotype of SNP rs6973428 showed a 5.5-fold increased risk compared to the wild type carrying genotypes. In the cumulative effect analysis, the highest risk group (individuals with ≥8 unfavorable genotypes) was significantly less likely to respond to chemotherapy (OR=8.40, 95% CI 3.10–22.75) compared to the low risk group (≤4 unfavorable genotypes). Conclusions. A pathway-based approach can demonstrate cumulative effects of multiple genetic variants on clinical response to chemotherapy and survival. Therapy targeting the mTOR pathway may modify outcome in select patients.

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Recommended Citation

Meyer, Larissa, "Genetic variants in the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway as predictors of survival and clinical response in women with ovarian cancer" (2011). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1497541.