Impact of PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway activation on the prognosis of patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinomas
García Carracedo, D.; Ángeles Villaronga, M.; Álvarez Teijeiro, S.; Hermida Prado, F.; Santamaría, I.; Allonca, E.; Suárez Fernández, L.; Victoria Gonzalez, M.; Milagros Balbín, M.; Astudillo, A.; Martínez Camblor, Pablo; Su, G.H.; Rodrigo, J.P.; García Pedrero, J.M.
The PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling pathway has emerged as one of the most frequently deregulated in head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC). Numerous alterations of various upstream and downstream components have been described; however, their prognostic significance and impact on HNSCC patient survival remains to be established. This was addressed using an unbiased cohort of 93 consecutive and homogeneous surgically treated HNSCC patients and results confirmed in 432 HNSCC patients. Our findings reveal the high prevalence of S6 phosphorylation, a surrogate marker of mTORC1 activation, in HNSCC specimens (>70%) and, more importantly, demonstrate its relevance on clinical outcome. Phosphorylation of ribosomal protein S6 on either Ser235/236 or Ser240/244 was consistently and significantly correlated with favorable prognosis, although with differences depending on the tumor site. Thus, p-S6 expression was significantly correlated with better disease-specific survival specifically in the subgroup of laryngeal carcinoma patients (P< 0.001). In addition, multivariate regression models revealed p-S6 to be an inverse and independent predictor of lymph-node metastasis (P= 0.004) and distant metastasis (P= 0.006). Taken together, this study unveils an unprecedented correlation of mTOR activation with improved clinical outcome in patients with laryngeal carcinomas and uncovers the potential of p-S6 expression as a good prognostic biomarker and an inverse predictor of lymph node and distant metastases. These results should be of broad interest as immunohistochemical detection of p-S6 may help to stratify patients and guide treatment decisions.