Soluble mesothelin, a cell surface glycoprotein predominant in several types of cancer, is an independent prognostic marker and a new potential therapeutic target for patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM), a recent meta-analysis study concluded.
The study, “Prognostic Significance of Soluble Mesothelin in Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma: A Meta-Analysis,” was published in the journal Oncotarget.
MPM is an uncommon and highly aggressive type of cancer caused by asbestos fibers that affects the mesothelium, a protective lining around cavities and internal organs, particularly the lungs. This condition has a poor prognosis and is increasingly being reported worldwide. Researchers hope to find new biomarkers to help diagnose the disease and follow its progression and treatment response in MPM patients.
Mesothelin, a protein that binds to cell membranes but which also can be detected in circulation, is highly present in several cancers, including mesotheliomas, pancreatic cancers, and ovarian cancers. While some studies show mesothelin as a valuable negative prognostic marker, others find it inconclusive and recommend further evaluation. The links between MPM survival and age, gender, tumor histology, and tumor stage also remain unclear.
This study combines the results of eight other scientific studies involving 579 patients. It is the first to evaluate the prognostic value of soluble mesothelin and the effects of age, gender, tumor histology, and tumor stage on MPM patient survival.
MPM patient survival was significantly associated with tumor histology and tumor stage in the review, the authors reported. Non-epithelioid histology and advanced tumor stage are significantly linked to poor survival rates. However, age and gender are not significantly associated with the survival of MPM patients, authors said.
Soluble mesothelin levels also were significantly associated with the survival of MPM patients, with high soluble mesothelin levels predicting a poor prognosis.
“Mesothelin is a suitable candidate for drug therapy and a potential target for designing novel therapeutic strategies” for MPM, the authors stated.
But they acknowledged limitations to the study, including the relatively small number of studies analyzed, the small size of each study, and that all patients were Caucasians, which could lead to biased analysis. The authors highlighted the need for additional studies.