One of the first things you want to know when you’re diagnosed with mesothelioma is the prognosis — what to expect in the fight to come.
The problem is that mesothelioma is a treacherous cancer. So much so that the course it will run can be difficult to predict.
Researchers around the world have been studying mesothelioma for signals that might allow prognoses to be made with greater accuracy. A team in South Australia believes it has found one such prognosis-aiding marker and wrote about it in the International Journal of Molecular Science,
The marker is Aquaporin 1. It appears that Aquaporin 1 — the researchers refer to it as AQP1 — is over-expressed in certain malignant mesothelioma cells.
The significance of the over-expression of AQP1 is that it may play a role in determining your survival prospects.
AQP1 Is Over-Expressed on Mesothelioma Cells
AQP1 belongs to a family of transmembrane water channel proteins. These proteins are involved in the transport of water. But they also have a lot to do with cell proliferation and your ability to feel pain.
This family of proteins is normally expressed on a variety of cells. Normal mesothelial cells express them, for instance. But when mesothelial cells turn cancerous, the expression exceeds the norm.
The Australian research team suggested that this over-expression in mesothelioma cells comes in different gradations.
Specifically, they believe that a very high degree of AQP1 over-expression means your mesothelioma is of the epithelioid cell type. A low degree means it’s the sarcomatoid type. A degree somewhere in the middle means it’s the biphasic type.
That’s useful information because survival odds are better if you are found to have the epithelioid type, worse if you have the sarcomatoid type.
Epithelioid mesothelioma cells are less resistant to treatment than are sarcomatoid mesothelioma cells. Sarcomatoid mesothelioma cells are also more aggressive (a big factor contributing to poorer prognoses).
An oddity about over-expressed AQP1 is that better survival odds are associated with lower — not higher — levels of the protein if you’re talking about other types of cancer.
However, there are some commonalities between mesothelioma and other types of cancer regarding over-expression of AQP1. Most notably is the fact that inhibition of AQP1 causes cell motility and invasiveness.
That makes AQP1 a potentially good mesothelioma therapeutic target in addition to a prognostic marker, the researchers note.
Mesothelioma and AQP1 Was Studied Earlier
The researchers are from Flinders University of South Australia and Flinders Medical Centre (both in Bedford Park) and from Concord Repatriation General Hospital in Sydney.
They arrived at their conclusions about AQP1 after studying 104 malignant mesothelioma patients diagnosed or seen between 2010 and 2013 at Flinders Medical Centre. However, this was not the first time these particular researchers had explored AQP1.
In an earlier study they observed the existence of a statistically significant difference in the levels of AQP1 expression in the three malignant mesothelioma subtypes. This finding was confirmed by the latest study.
The researchers contend that AQP1 deserves a place alongside other established prognostic indicators of malignant mesothelioma. Those other indicators include histological subtype, sex and age.
The title of the article is “Usefulness of Aquaporin 1 as a Prognostic Marker in a Prospective Cohort of Malignant Mesotheliomas.”