Quantitative image analysis of intra-tumoral bFGF level as a molecular marker of paclitaxel resistance
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Citation:Colin T. Walsh et al, "Quantitative image analysis of intra-tumoral bFGF level as a molecular marker of paclitaxel resistance," Journal of Translational Medicine 6 (2008), doi:10.1186/1479-5876-6-4, http://www.translational-medicine.com/content/6/1/4
Background: The role of basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) in chemoresistance is controversial; some studies showed a relationship between higher bFGF level and chemoresistance while other studies showed the opposite finding. The goal of the present study was to quantify bFGF levels in archived tumor tissues, and to determine its relationship with chemosensitivity. Methods: We established an image analysis-based method to quantify and convert the immunostaining intensity of intra-tumor bFGF to concentrations; this was accomplished by generating standard curves using human xenograft tumors as the renewable tissue source for simultaneous image analysis and ELISA. The relationships between bFGF concentrations and tumor chemosensitivity of patient tumors (n = 87) to paclitaxel were evaluated using linear regression analysis. Results: The image analysis results were compared to our previous results obtained using a conventional, semi-quantitative visual scoring method. While both analyses indicated an inverse relationship between bFGF level and tumor sensitivity to paclitaxel, the image analysis method, by providing bFGF levels in individual tumors and therefore more data points (87 numerical values as opposed to four groups of staining intensities), further enabled the quantitative analysis of the relationship in subgroups of tumors with different pathobiological properties. The results show significant correlation between bFGF level and tumor sensitivity to the antiproliferation effect, but not the apoptotic effect, of paclitaxel. We further found stronger correlations of bFGF level and paclitaxel sensitivity in four tumor subgroups (high stage, positive p53 staining, negative aFGF staining, containing higher-than-median bFGF level), compared to all other groups. These findings suggest that the relationship between intra-tumoral bFGF level and paclitaxel sensitivity was context-dependent, which may explain the previous contradictory findings on the merit of using plasma or urine bFGF level as a prognostic indicator. Conclusion: The present study established a quantitative image analysis method that enabled the measurement of intratumoral bFGF level in archived tissues. The ability to quantify a potential biomarker provided the opportunity to study the relationship between the biomarker and chemosensitivity in tumor subgroups and thereby enabled hypothesis generation for additional translational research.