Background: Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is a highly malignant neoplasm. DNA-damaging drugs, such as cisplatin (CDDP) and 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), are most frequently used in preoperative chemotherapy for ESCC. However, the response to preoperative chemotherapy varies among patients. p53, encoded by TP53, participates in apoptotic pathways following chemotherapy with DNA-damaging drugs, and mutation of TP53 contributes to chemoresistance. Organic cation transporter 1 (OCT1) participates in the uptake of CDDP, and its reduced expression is associated with CDDP resistance. The aim of this study was to evaluate the predictive impact of the expression status of p53 and OCT1 in response to preoperative chemotherapy in ESCC. Methods: We retrospectively assessed 66 ESCC patients who received preoperative chemotherapy with CDDP/5-FU (CF) or docetaxel/CDDP/5-FU (DCF). p53 and OCT1 expression in pretreatment biopsy specimens was immunohistochemically determined and correlated with histological response to preoperative chemotherapy. Results: p53 with wild-type (p53WT-ex) and mutant-type (p53MT-ex) expression patterns was identified in 40.9% and 59.1% of patients, respectively. High expression of OCT1 (OCT1High) was detected in 45.5%, and the remaining 54.5% showed low expression (OCT1Low). In a univariate analysis of the entire cohort, p53MT-ex was significantly correlated with poor response (P = 0.026), whereas OCT1Low showed marginal significance (P = 0.091). In a combined analysis, tumors with either p53MT-ex or OCT1Low showed a significant correlation with poor response compared with tumors with both p53WT-ex and OCT1High (P < 0.001). The sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of combined p53/OCT1 were 93.9%, 47.1%, and 81.8%, respectively. Multivariate analysis identified p53 (P = 0.017), OCT1 (P = 0.032), and combined p53/OCT1 (P < 0.001) as independent predictors of histological response. When samples were stratified according to chemotherapy regimen in the univariate analysis, combined p53/OCT1 was the only significant factor for poor response in the CF (P = 0.011) and DCF (P = 0.021) groups, whereas p53 showed no statistical significance. Conclusions: Our results suggest that either p53MT-ex or OCT1Low expression in pretreatment biopsy specimens may be a potential predictor of poor response to preoperative chemotherapy with the CF-based regimens in ESCC, although the specificity needs to be improved.
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