The linkage between the genetic and phenotypic heterogeneity of the tumor has not been thoroughly evaluated. Herein, we investigated how the genetic and metabolic heterogeneity features of the tumor are associated with each other in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSC). We further assessed the prognostic significance of those features.
The mutant-allele tumor heterogeneity (MATH) score (n = 508), a genetic heterogeneity feature, and tumor glycolysis feature (GlycoS) (n = 503) were obtained from the HNSC dataset in the cancer genome atlas (TCGA). We identified matching patients (n = 33) who underwent 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG PET) from the cancer imaging archive (TCIA) and obtained the following information from the primary tumor: metabolic, metabolic-volumetric, and metabolic heterogeneity features. The association between the genetic and metabolic features and their prognostic values were assessed.
Tumor metabolic heterogeneity and metabolic-volumetric features showed a mild degree of association with MATH (n = 25, ρ = 0.4~0.5, P < 0.05 for all features). The patients with higher FDG PET features and MATH died sooner. Combination of MATH and tumor metabolic heterogeneity features showed a better stratification of prognosis than MATH. Also, higher MATH and GlycoS were associated with significantly worse overall survival (n = 499, P = 0.002 and 0.0001 for MATH and GlycoS, respectively). Furthermore, both MATH and GlycoS independently predicted overall survival after adjusting for clinicopathologic features and the other (P = 0.015 and 0.006, respectively).
Both tumor metabolic heterogeneity and metabolic-volumetric features assessed by FDG PET showed a mild degree of association with genetic heterogeneity in HNSC. Both metabolic and genetic heterogeneity features were predictive of survival and there was an additive prognostic value when the metabolic and genetic heterogeneity features were combined. Also, MATH and GlycoS were independent prognostic factors in HNSC; they can be used for precise prognostication once validated.
Choi, J., Gim, J. A., Oh, C., Ha, S., Lee, H., Choi, H.*, & Im, H. J.* (2019).