© 2016, International Society of Oncology and BioMarkers (ISOBM). Platinum-based chemoradiotherapy (CRT) is a preferred standard of care for locally advanced head and neck cancer (HNC). However, survival benefit is small, with substantial toxicity and biomarkers of CRT resistance that could guide treatment selection and spare morbidity. Increased DNA repair in solid tumors may contribute to cancer cells’ ability to survive in genotoxic stress environments afforded by therapy. We assessed mRNA expression levels of DNA repair-related genes BRCA1, RAP80, 53 binding protein 1 (53BP1), mediator of DNA damage checkpoint 1 (MDC1), and RNF8. We correlated our findings with response and overall survival in 72 head and neck patients treated with weekly carboplatin AUC 2 and radiotherapy. Complete response (CR) to CRT was 50 % in patients with low levels of 53BP1 compared to 6.3 % in patients with high levels (p = 0.0059). Of high BRCA1 mRNA expressors, 41.2 % had CR compared to 29.4 % of low expressors (p = 0.72). For a small group of patients with low 53BP1 and either high BRCA1 or RAP80, CRs were 66.7 and 71.4 %, respectively. A trend for better overall survival (OS) was found for patients with low 53BP1 (15 vs 8 m; p = 0.056). Our findings highlight the potential usefulness of 53BP1 mRNA as a predictive biomarker of response and overall survival in HNC patients treated with chemoradiotherapy. Those with high 53BP1 expression could derive only a meager benefit from treatment. Analysis of BRCA1 and RAP80 could further reinforce the predictive value of 53BP1. Although this was a retrospective study with small sample size, it could inform larger translational studies in HNC.
- Head and neck cancer